Ben Simmons will flourish in the NBA, Sydney Kings assistant coach Lanard Copeland says.
Simmons, 19, was selected by Philadelphia 76ers with the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, much to the delight of the Barclays Centre crowd which erupted at the announcement.
"He can do everything," Copeland, a friend of the Simmons family for more than two decades, told ESPN. "He has great vision on the floor and he can see things before they happen. He has the ability to score when he needs to, he's an assist man, and he rebounds with the best of them. He's big and strong, he's very athletic and he runs the floor."
"That's why I think he'll be a better professional than a college player; in college you have to learn a system but in the pros you get to show off your skills and what you can do."
Copeland knows Simmons well through his friendship with the family, and the National Basketball League legend even recalls the first time he saw the NBA rookie play at Box Hill Senior Secondary College in Melbourne.
"He was more advanced than anyone else on the team," Copeland told ESPN.
"He was a do-it-all kind of guy.
"Kevin Goorjian was the coach and he was always bragging about how good he was."
Goorjian coached Simmons at Box Hill in year nine and ten and their bond grew so much that he was asked to accompany him in New York when the draft decision was made.
"He just looked like a different player on the court. He looked like he was much older than everyone at his age, and his knowledge of the game and his speed was superb. He was making passes and kids weren't ready for it; that's when you knew he was going to be special," Copeland said.
Copeland said Simmons would soon face challenges the NBA, despite his natural talent and ability; most notably the rapid increase in game time and travel.
LSU -- Simmons' college since 2015 -- played 33 matches in the 2015-2016 season, with only 11 away from home. Now Simmons must prepare for at least 82 matches at the elite level -- half of them on the road.
"It's a very quick league and you don't have time to adjust. Sometimes guys can get burned out quickly because they're not used to that schedule.
"But, the biggest pressure he will have is that everyone in the league will test you. You're No. 1 and they all want to see how good you are. So every night there's going to be someone guarding you. You have to play against Kevin Durant, then LeBron [James], Dwayne Wade and Carmello Anthony. Every night you're playing against a superstar, and they don't care that you're the No. 1 pick from Australia."
Simmons joins Andrew Bogut (2005) and Kyrie Irving (2011) as the third No. 1 pick to come from the city of Melbourne, and four Australians while in the past three years have managed to win an NBA championship.
Patty Mills and Aron Baynes achieved championship success in 2014 with San Antonio Spurs before Bogut and Golden State Warriors took the title in 2015. Last week, Matthew Dellavedova picked up a ring after Cleveland Cavaliers' astonishing come-from-behind win.
Copeland said there was no doubt that Australian basketball would now be taken seriously.
"Australian basketball is on the rise and the NBL has gone from low to high in the last couple of years. You've got more NBA players from Australia then you've ever had, and to get another No. 1 pick from Melbourne just lets the world know whoever's teaching basketball, whatever programs we're running down here, we're doing it quite well," Copeland said.
"Now there's going to be a lot more scouts coming down here, a lot more teams coming down here and a lot more information wanted about Australia."