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article image2016 NBA Draft: Aussie playmaker joins Sixers as top pick

By Lucky Malicay     Jun 24, 2016 in Sports
A six-foot-nine, 19-year-old Australian playing for the Louisiana State University Tigers has topped this year’s National Basketball Association draft.
Forward Ben Simmons, a playmaker from Melbourne, was chosen by the Philadelphia 76ers as No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft Thursday night.
He became the third Australian-born player to be drafted number one after Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (2011) and Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Bogut (2005).
"It feels amazing, honestly," Simmons said. "I can't even -- my legs were shaking when I was on stage."
"Anything you want to do, you can do. I've been wanting to do that since I was five, six, seven and I've finally accomplished that," he added.
Forward Brandon Ingram joined the Los Angeles Lakers as the second overall pick while forward Jaylen Brown went to the Boston Celtics as the third pick. Dragan Bender, another forward from Israel’s Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv, was selected by the Phoenix Suns as the fourth overall pick.
Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo said they see Simmons’ arrival as a great improvement for the team and a huge starting point for the organization’s evolution.
“Probably more than anything, we’re tremendously excited about the addition of Ben Simmons to this team and to this roster. I think the city of Philadelphia, the fans, are going to be extremely pleased with what they see out of Ben hopefully for the next decade-plus. This is a great starting point for this stage of evolution of this franchise,” Colangelo told Sixers.com.
“I think he’s going to impact the outlook for the organization, the outlook for fans. I think he gives them reason for hope. He’s going to make the players on the court that he plays with better. That’s one of the key traits we liked about Ben.”
Simmons, the third number one pick in franchise history and the first since the Sixers recruited the legendary Allen Iverson 20 years ago, said his selection means a lot to the organization, adding he always wanted to be the best player.
Another Australian, forward Thon Maker, was also selected in the top 10 of the draft, joining the Milwaukee Bucks. Maker, who was born in Sudan but fled the country with his family at age five, has played for Canada's Athlete Institute.
The arrival of Simmons and Makers increased Australia’s present NBA representation to nine, excluding Irving who now represents the United States.
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