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Magic Johnson says Australian Ben Simmons is best basketballer since LeBron James

Basketball legend Magic Johnson has given Australian teenager Ben Simmons a huge endorsement as the best all-round player to emerge since LeBron James.

Melbourne-born Simmons has NBA clubs circling in his rookie year for Louisiana State University, averaging 20.5 points and a league-high 13.1 rebounds.

Simmons notches double-double against Kentucky

Australia's Ben Simmons finishes with a flurry against Kentucky after sitting out the first half.

Simmons has often been compared to Johnson, a five-time NBA champion and three-time NBA MVP, because of his rare combination of size, ball skills and passing ability.

And Johnson's high praise will only strengthen his favouritism to be the No.1 NBA Draft pick in June - when he could easily end up with Johnson's former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

LSU forward Ben Simmons continues to impress in his freshman year.
LSU forward Ben Simmons continues to impress in his freshman year.  Photo: AP

"LSU's Ben Simmons is the best all around player I've seen since LeBron James came out of high school straight to the NBA!" Johnson tweeted.

"Whatever team selects Ben Simmons, will be getting a player that will have an immediate impact on their squad!"

The NBA draft rewards the teams with the worst records with the best chance of scoring the top pick and the Lakers are having a woeful year.


The backing from Johnson came just hours before LSU faced their toughest test of the season, inflicting a major upset victory over the University of Kentucky.

LSU won 85-67 in Baton Rouge, with 19-year-old Simmons having a relatively quiet game for his high standards with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

LSU guard Tim Quarterman and forward Craig Victor stepped up after Simmons was hit with two early fouls and sat out 11 minutes of the first half against ninth-ranked Kentucky.

Kentucky coach John Calipari had feared that Simmons would land 40 points or more against his side.

AAP