Aussie Simmons picked at No.1 in NBA draft
BASKETBALL: It was no surprise, but Australian Ben Simmons has officially become a Philadelphia 76er after he was taken with the first pick in this morning's NBA draft in New York.
Fans of the franchise at Brooklyn's Barclays Center cheered when the power forward, who was born in Melbourne and honed his skills and reputation at Louisiana State University, was selected as the coveted No.1.
"It feels amazing, honestly," he told reporters in his post-draft press conference. "My legs were shaking when I was on stage.
"Honestly, it feels like all this pressure just has dropped off me. I can relax now that I know where I'm going to be. More importantly, I know where I'm headed and where I'm going to start working, and what I need to work on for the team.
"I'm happy to be a part of the family now. It's a weight off my chest. I've been looking forward to this day for a while.
"I'm glad. I've made history, not only for myself and my family, but for Australian basketball."
Simmons became Australia's second No.1 draft pick behind Andrew Bogut, who was the top pick in 2005 with the Milwaukee Bucks, and the third Melbourne-born basketballer taken at No.1 after Bogut (2005) and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2011).
Simmons is also the record eighth Australian on an NBA roster, and was looking forward to taking on good friend Dante Exum of the Utah Jazz.
"I'm definitely going at him when we play," he said. "We've had rivalries since we were like seven years old. It's kind of weird seeing that relationship change from playing in the backyard to now we're going to be playing in the NBA."
West Australian-raised Thon Maker, however, made it nine when he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the No.10 overall pick.