By David F. Cohen
Sixers rookie sensation may be on the shelf till January as he rehabs from foot surgery:
But he is sure making news!
In his new Showtime Sports documentary, the former LSU star blames the NCAA for “wasting” his lone year of college by asking him to attend class.
“The NCAA is really f—ed up,” Simmons said on “One and Done,” a film that will air on Showtime on Friday night. “Everybody’s making money except the players. We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”
The documentary follows Simmons from his time as a prodigy in Australia to his high school career at Montverde Academy near Orlando, Florida, his one year at LSU and his journey to the NBA draft, where he was selected first overall by the Sixers.
Throughout the film, Simmons wrestles with the trappings of his newfound fame. With agents and shoe companies hovering in Baton Rouge, Simmons said he had to avoid “temptations.”
At LSU, he said he was offered a “Bentley, a Wraith Rolls-Royce, watches, jewelry, a house … anything. It literally is anything. People coming at you, offering you things.”
Simmons didn’t say who offered him those gifts, which would have made him ineligible to compete in college. On a trip to a shoe store, he quips that a salesman would “let me take whatever” if he asked.
His mother, Julie Simmons, claims she feared the NCAA would eventually “unravel” her son’s stint at LSU. But his sister, Emily Bush, says she has receipts for every item Simmons purchased while he attended the school. But that doesn’t mean the family approves of the regulations.
“If you get a kid who’s a child prodigy and plays the violin amazingly, no one’s saying to them you must go to college for a year before you join the philharmonic orchestra,” Julie Simmons said in the film.
Friction in the family is evident in the film as Bush begins to manage her superstar brother’s career and minimize the role of their parents. But the documentary focuses on his collegiate experience and contempt for the NCAA and its standards.
Simmons was barred from the Wooden Award’s final list after he failed to achieve a 2.0 GPA. He was also benched for four-plus minutes of a conference matchup for missing a class.
In one scene, filmed last season, Simmons said he had no intention of attending class after he became eligible for the second semester.
“I got B’s and C’s; I’m not going to class next semester because I don’t need to,” Simmons said. “… I’m here to play, I’m not here to go to school.”
Collegiate athletes who are eligible by the end of first semester can also compete in the second semester, even if their academics slip. Simmons admits he stopped caring about class.
“[Coach] Jones said, ‘We need to make up a punishment if you miss another class,'” Simmons said. “I missed my next class about preparing for better study habits. I’m going to the NBA next season. Why bull—- if it’s not going to help me?”
Simmons also said the NCAA used him to make money, so he planned to become a “voice” for college athletes after he left LSU.
“The NCAA is messed up,” Simmons said. “I don’t have a voice. … I don’t get paid to do it. Don’t say I’m an amateur and make me take pictures and sign stuff and go make hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars off one person. … I’m going off on the NCAA. Just wait, just wait. I can be a voice for everybody in college. I’m here because I have to be here [at LSU]. … I can’t get a degree in two semesters, so it’s kind of pointless. I feel like I’m wasting time.”