LSU forward Ben Simmons was named the 2016 Wayman Tisdale Award winner Wednesday, according to the USBWA, given to the top freshman in college basketball.
LSU Basketball congratulated Simmons on Twitter:
The other finalists for the award included California guard Jaylen Brown, Marquette forward Henry Ellenson, Duke forward Brandon Ingram and Kentucky guard Jamal Murray.
Despite LSU's failure to reach the NCAA tournament this season, Simmons was excellent, averaging 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game. His 23 double-doubles this season were tied for the third-most in college basketball history for a freshman with Kevin Love, behind only Michael Beasley (28) and Julius Randle (24), according to ESPN Stats & Information.
At 6'10" and 225 pounds, he's the rare breed of forward who can play inside, outside and operate as a point forward, distributing to his teammates. While his jump shot will need to improve at the next level and he's been critiqued for a lack of aggressiveness at times, Simmons is widely considered one of the top two prospects in the 2016 NCAA draft, alongside Ingram.
One NBA general manager compared him to Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, per Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com: "Simmons is more advanced for his age, but if you are watching what Giannis is doing right now, I could see Simmons—if he reaches his ceiling—putting up similar numbers. Simmons is stronger, a more explosive athlete, a better rebounder and an even better passer than Giannis."
Any team drafting Simmons this season will certainly be hoping for that type of impact, as Antetokounmpo has four triple-doubles in his last 12 games. Despite, at times, failing to live up to the enormous hype that followed him to LSU, Simmons was nonetheless dominant enough to be considered the top freshman in all of college basketball and one of the best players in the nation this season, period.
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