It’s hard to find a high school basketball game with more talent on the floor than Friday’s matchup between Montverde Academy (FL.) and Bishop O’Dowd from Oakland.
No school in the country is producing better players than Montverde in recent years after sending D’Angelo Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Kasey Hill to college over the last two seasons. This year’s team is no different. Montverde goes 7’2 and 7’0 across the front line with high major talent in Florida State recruit Jean Marc Christ Koumadje and Wake Forest recruit Doral Moore. Florida commit Noah Dickerson, a 6’8 power forward, is the third-best player on the team despite being ranked No. 54 overall in the senior class. O’Dowd is probably one of the only high schools in the country with enough size and athleticism to keep a game against Montverde competitive.
For all the D1 talent here, there’s only one reason this game was on ESPN. Montverde’s Ben Simmons, the No. 1 recruit in the country and an LSU commit, was going head-to-head with Ivan Rabb, a 6’11 forward ranked No. 5 in his class who is currently weighing offers from Arizona, Cal, Kansas, UCLA and Kentucky.
These are going to be two of the best freshmen in the country next season, and likely two of the top picks in the 2016 NBA Draft. Both showed on Friday they’re worthy of the substantial hype. Simmons finished with a triple-double (22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) to lead Montverde to a 78-64 win in Florida.
Simmons came to the United States from Australia before his junior season and broke out at Peach Jam this past summer to become the consensus best player in the senior class. He’s been committed to LSU since October of 2013 thanks to a family connection to Tigers assistant David Patrick, who is his godfather. Add him to a mix that also includes Jazz rookie guard Dante Exum and another top high school recruit, Thon Maker, and it’s easier to see why Australian basketball should be in for a new golden age.
At 6’9, 200 pounds, Simmons has developed a reputation as a point-forward. That’s one of the first things that stuck out against Bishop O’Dowd — he seems like a really good decision maker in the open court, he’s unselfish and appears to have a great feel for the game.