“I’ve learned a lot just being around LeBron,” Simmons said. “People say things about him all the time, but he would never say anything back. That’s what I learned from him: Don’t retaliate to articles or pieces or to things that are said about me.”

By Mary Cunningham

If you’re a Sixers fan, waking up to this beautiful Friday, the first day of the team’s new-found glorious potential, just imagine how Ben Simmons feels.

“It’s kind of surreal right now,” Simmons told the New York Times. “It probably won’t hit me until I’m in the city, I’m actually part of the organization. It honestly feels like all the pressure just has hopped off me. Now I can relax. I know where I’m going to be. I know where I’m headed.”

Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Simmons pushed his parents to send him to the United States after looking at YouTube clips, studying rankings and looking at his high school competition.

“Part of it was him saying, ‘I’m ready,’” his father, David, recalled.

In 2013, Simmons moved to Florida and enrolled at Montverde Academy, which he led to three straight high school national championships.

During the recruiting process, Simmons rejected the idea that a top player should naturally attend one of the most successful big-time programs. He said no to Kentucky and no to Duke. Instead he went to LSU, where his godfather, David Patrick, was the associate head coach. Patrick is now an assistant at Texas Christian.

“The point for me was going to a school that didn’t have a rich basketball history like a Kentucky or a Duke,” Simmons said. “I knew it was going to be hard. I like a challenge. I accepted that.”

At LSU, there were injuries and problems with team chemistry issues. The Tigers did not make the NCAA tournament and elected not to participate in the National Invitation Tournament.

“It was tough, because I’ve never been on a losing team,” Simmons said.

But having ended up on one — and having shouldered the blame for the team’s failures — will help Simmons in his transition to the NBA if he does not get off to a flying start.

“The experience at LSU helped me understand that things are not always going to be perfect,” he said. “I was getting all of that thrown on me, but I had to deal with it, and it came with the territory.”

Simmons signed last March with Klutch Sports. The agency’s highest-profile client is James, the top draft pick at 18 years old in 2003, who Simmons says has become a friend and a mentor. They talk frequently, discussing topics like footwork and how Simmons’s life is about to dramatically change.

“I’ve learned a lot just being around LeBron,” Simmons said. “People say things about him all the time, but he would never say anything back. That’s what I learned from him: Don’t retaliate to articles or pieces or to things that are said about me.”

Simmons is the subject of a documentary, “One and Done,” scheduled to appear on Showtime in October. The film explores Simmons’s journey from Australia to Florida to LSU to the NBA. It illustrates the global system that delivers players to college programs in the United States.

“I think it’s great because you’re watching somebody go from high school to the NBA, and you see what’s actually happening,” Simmons said. “I want people to understand it’s not all about the money, cars and things like that. A lot of different things go into this.”

Simmons is the youngest of six children. His father, David, was born and raised in the South Bronx; his mother, Julie, is from Australia.

David Simmons played college basketball at Oklahoma City University and spent his professional career in South America and finally in Australia, where he met and married Julie.

“I never would have imagined any of this,” David Simmons said. “There was no plan for this. All of our kids were treated the same. They were all coached the same way. Ben just happened to be the kid who turned out to be 6-10 with the same skills they all had.”

Because of his high profile, his extraordinary skills and the desperation of the team that makes him their first selection, Simmons may have a shorter-than-usual honeymoon.

In the era of social media, anyone can text a good game. Anyone can Facebook or Snapchat a good game. But at some point, you have to play a good game — especially if you are a high-profile rookie in championship-starved Philly.

“I’ll have time to mature and develop, and one day, hopefully, I can bring a ring to wherever I am,” Simmons said.

He smiled. “LeBron did it,” Simmons said.