LeBron says potential top draft pick Simmons has 'all tools' for success
The 19-year-old, 2.08-meter forward from Melbourne could go to the Philadelphia 76ers with the top pick in the annual allocation of new talent after a season at Louisiana State University, where he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
"I think he's a great young talent," James said. "I think the way he displays on the basketball court, we all notice. I think we all don't know just yet how great of a kid he is and how down to earth he is with the game of basketball and life in general."
James has the same agent, Rich Paul, as Simmons and has spent the past couple of years helping the Down Under talent prepare for the challenge of life in the NBA.
"I had an opportunity to spend a lot of time over the last couple years with him and his family. They're just so very appreciative of the opportunity that they've been given," James said.
"And as a mentor to him and big brother to him, I also give him a lot of advice on what to expect when he makes his jump next week, how to handle it. But he also has to figure it out on his own as well because everybody's path is different.
"I think he has all the tools, so it's up to him."
Asked if the 76ers would be making a mistake to pass on Simmons, James hedged his bets, saying, "I'm not a GM (general manager). I don't get paid by the Sixers, so I'm not going to answer that."
Simmons met with the 76ers, including coach Brett Brown and general manager Bryan Colangelo, last Thursday in Cleveland, where the Aussie has been training.
If Philadelphia does make another selection, the next choices in the draft go to the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Simmons has said he will not play for Australia's "Boomers" at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August so he can better prepare for his NBA rookie season.
Simmons' American father, Dave Simmons, was a standout forward for the Melbourne Tigers and alongside Aussie legend Andrew Gaze helped Melbourne win the Australian league crown in 1993. Simmons' jersey number, 25, was retired by the Tigers. – Jim Slater, Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com