The 2016 NBA Draft kicked off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday night, with the Philadelphia 76ers selecting Australian LSU forward Ben Simmons as the No. 1 overall pick.

NBA Draft 2016: Sixers Select LSU’s Ben Simmons As No. 1 Overall Pick

As a youngster growing up in Australia, 19-year-old Simmons looked up to former guard Allen Iverson, who was also drafted by the Sixers as the first overall pick in 1996. The versatile forward is the franchise’s first top draft pick since Iverson.

“A lot of people don’t know that I actually had a poster of A.I. when I was young in my room,” Simmons said. “It was a big diamond-cut poster of him. I just remember him being one of those point guards, a smaller guy with cornrows and the headbands. I remember I used to have the cornrows when I was younger. He was one of those players that fought every day.”

During his only year at Baton Rouge, Simmons averaged an impressive 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound player also displayed terrific ball-handling and passing abilities.


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Simmons already knows his new head coach, Philadelphia’s Brett Brown. Brown coached Simmons’ father Dave in Australia years ago.

“I coached Ben’s father a long time ago,” said Brown, who coached the Australian men’s national team and was also head coach of the Sydney Kings of the Australian National Basketball League. “I’ve known Ben since he was born. I’ve known his family since the late ’80s. Just having that knowledge of where he was raised and understanding the culture, I also lived 17 years in Australia.”

The Australian expressed relief after he became a Sixer.

“I’m happy to be part of the family now,” Simmons said. “It’s a weight off my chest. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while, so I’m glad I’ve made history, not only for myself but my family and Australian basketball.”

Simmons joins Shaquille O’Neal (1992) as the second top pick out of LSU. He is also the second Australian to be taken first overall after Andrew Bogut in 2005.

Another top contender to go to the Sixers as the top pick was Duke forward Brandon Ingram, another freshman. The Los Angeles Lakers ended up taking Ingram moments later as the second overall pick.

The 76ers also selected forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot from France as the 24th first-round pick, and shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz from Turkey as the 26th pick.

The Boston Celtics chose freshman small forward Jaylen Brown from the University of California as the third pick. The 6-foot-7, 19-year-old Brown averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in just one season at California, and earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors along with a spot on the First-Team All-Pac-12. He scored in double figures during 27 of the 34 games he played in, and notched the third most points (498) by a freshman in program history.

The Phoenix Suns drafted Croatian forward Dragan Bender as the fourth overall pick, and the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Providence point guard Kris Dunn as the fifth pick.

Rounding out the top ten were Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (No. 6), who was chosen by the New Orleans Pelicans, Kentucky guard Jamal Murray, (No. 7), who went to the Denver Nuggets, Washington forward Marquese Chriss, (No. 8) who was also chosen by the Suns, Utah center Jakob Poeltl, (No. 9) who went to the Toronto Raptors, and Australian center Thon Makon, who was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Sacramento Kings made Chriss the eighth overall pick, though he was part of a trade with the Suns that ultimately netted the Kings the No. 13 pick (Georgios Papagiannis from Greece) and the 28th pick (Skal Labissiere, Kentucky).

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 23: Ben Simmons walks on stage after being drafted first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

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