LSU freshman star Ben Simmons’ name was notably absent from the list of Wooden Award finalists, and it was revealed Saturday that he was deemed ineligible to vie for the award.
According to ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft didn’t meet the academic criteria needed to be considered.
Per Goodman, Tigers head coach Johnny Jones confirmed that the school was unable to submit Simmons for the ballot: “From what I was told, he didn’t meet all of the requirements. He wasn’t certified by the school to be on the ballot.”
While LSU has had an up-and-down season with a record of 18-12, Simmons has been every bit as good as advertised, with per-game averages of 19.7 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
The 6’10” native of Australia has taken college basketball by storm, and Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports doesn’t believe that the Wooden Award situation will change the way NBA teams perceive him:
No, Ben Simmons “not meeting the requirements for the Wooden Award” will not affect his draft stock.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 5, 2016
Simmons also put a positive spin on the news when talking to LSU assistant David Patrick by focusing on team success rather than individual accolades, according to Goodman.
“All I care about is winning,” he said.
The Wooden Award criteria call for a candidate to have a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.00 since the start of his enrollment.
Simmons was previously benched for the start of LSU’s 81-65 loss to Tennessee last month due to academic issues.
Thanks to LSU’s inconsistent nature this season, Simmons likely would have faced an uphill climb in winning the Wooden Award, especially over Oklahoma senior guard Buddy Hield and Michigan State senior guard Denzel Valentine.
Simmons’ play down the stretch won’t have any impact on the Wooden race, but he still has plenty to play for. The Tigers have work to do to get into the NCAA tournament.