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Ben Simmons quits college basketball, hires an agent on road to NBA

LOS ANGELES: Australian teenager Ben Simmons is entering the NBA and might play for the Boomers at this year's Olympics.

Rio no go:Ben Simmons.
Rio no go:Ben Simmons. Photo: Getty Images

Simmons' announcement that he will quit US college basketball, hire an agent and declare for the NBA was not a surprise.

"I'm making it official," the 19-year-old from Melbourne, announcing his decision to turn professional, told ESPN.

What did surprise and should put a smile on Australian basketball fans and his Boomer teammates were comments from Simmons' father, former Melbourne Tigers NBL big man David Simmons, who floated the prospect of his son suiting up in green and gold in Rio.

David Simmons told the New Orleans Advocate that his son wanted to sign with an agent soon to provide guidance with career decisions, including whether to play in the August Olympics.

Simmons' future NBA team might be against the teenager playing in the Olympics and risking injury, a realistic prospect after Boomer teammate and Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while playing for Australia last year.

Indiana Pacers' star Paul George broke his leg while training with Team USA in 2014.

Simmons' availability for the Olympics also appeared in doubt because the teenager is "still a little burned" by being cut from the Boomers' 2014 World Cup squad, according to Australian centre Andrew Bogut.

David Simmons told the Advocate his son's decision on an agent "shouldn't be far off".

The teenager also needed to take time off from the basketball court following Louisiana State University's failure to make the end-of-season NCAA tournament.

The LSU season was a long one, starting with an August tour of Australia.

"He's taking a break right now," David Simmons told the Advocate.

"It's been a long time. These guys started back in the summer and then had the tour in Australia. I don't think they stopped until the season was over."

Simmons is expected to sign with LeBron James' Klutch Sports agency, with the Cleveland Cavaliers star's agent Rich Paul representing the young Australian.

Simmons started his stint at LSU the expected No. 1 pick for the NBA draft, but failing to get LSU to the NCAA tournament, perceived weaknesses in his game and the rise of Duke's Brandon Ingram have hurt his standing.

It will likely come down to the results of the NBA draft lottery on May 19.

The teams with the worst records - currently the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers - will have the best chances of drawing the top pick for the June 25 NBA draft.

Many draft analysts predict if the 76ers get the first pick they will use it on Ingram, while the Lakers, in need of a playmaking guard-forward like Simmons will take the Australian.

AAP