Ben Simmons wants to be part of Australia’s tilt at a first Olympic men’s basketball medal at Rio next year.
Rated the best high school player in the US earlier this year, Simmons, who has joined Louisiana State University (LSU), is tipped to be the NBA’s No.1 draft pick in 2016.
While the 19-year-old from Melbourne would love to represent Australia again, he knows the final call will be made by whichever NBA franchise he joins.
Simmons was unavailable for the Boomers’ Olympic qualifiers due to his commitments with LSU who are touring Australia.
He is expected to play one season at college level before heading to the NBA and said he had no idea if he would be allowed to play for the Boomers.
“I’ll know once that comes,” Simmons said.
When asked if being a No.1 pick would give him bargaining power, Simmons had a chuckle.
“I wish. I would love to get down to Brazil, who knows? Hopefully I can get down there,” he said.
The forward, who is 208cm, or 6 foot 10 in the old money, played for Australia in 2013 and became emotional when he talked about how special it was to play for the Boomers.
“Once you put that jersey on, you have your family, your team and the country backing you, so it’s one of those feelings you can’t really describe,” he said.
“It’s an honour to represent your country and put on that green and gold jersey.”
Simmons has been in contact with his good friend and NBA player Dante Exum, who suffered a possible season-ending knee injury playing for the Boomers in the Olympic qualifiers last week.
“He’s good, he’s staying positive. He’s got a good support system with his family backing him, so he’ll be fine,” he said.