Brian Allee-Walsh

What will Ben Simmons' legacy be at LSU?

LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives past Mississippi State forward Aric Holman (35) on his way to the basket during an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (Hilary Scheinuk /The Advocate via AP) MAGS OUT; INTERNET OUT; NO SALES; TV OUT; NO FORNS; LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC. OUT (INCLUDING GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT, 225, 10/12, INREGISTER, LBI CUSTOM); MANDATORY CREDIT
LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives past Mississippi State forward Aric Holman (35) on his way to the basket during an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (Hilary Scheinuk /The Advocate via AP) MAGS OUT; INTERNET OUT; NO SALES; TV OUT; NO FORNS; LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC. OUT (INCLUDING GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT, 225, 10/12, INREGISTER, LBI CUSTOM); MANDATORY CREDIT AP

It's hard to comprehend but the "one" is almost "done" for LSU freshman sensation Ben Simmons.

Six more SEC regular-season games, the conference tournament March 9-13 in Nashville, Tenn., and whatever postseason tournament awaits coach Johnny Jones and his Tigers is all that remains in Simmons' college basketball career.

And then it's on to the NBA as perhaps the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft.

Going into Wednesday night's home game against Alabama at the Pete Maravich Athletics Center in Baton Rouge, the Tigers (16-9, 9-3) currently share first place with Kentucky (19-6, 9-3) in the SEC and are a projected No. 7-seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.

Others see LSU in a more precarious light in terms of making the NCAAs largely based on a weak strength of schedule (70) and several "bad" losses earlier this season. Suffice to say, the Tigers are no slam dunk to make the Big Dance.

So how will Simmons be remembered in Tiger Town? What will be his legacy? It's true, he's the best to come along at LSU since Pistol Pete Maravich (1967-70), though a case can be made that Simmons is the best freshman to ever play at LSU. At the time Maravich enrolled at LSU in 1967, the NCAA prohibited freshmen from playing at the varsity level so Pistol Pete didn't begin his varsity career until his sophomore year.

In terms of Simmons' legacy, it likely will depend on how the Tigers finish the season. If they would win the regular-season SEC and/or tournament title and play deep into the NCAAs, then Simmons probably will be remembered fondly.

Anything less I suspect he'll become a passing thought, a distant memory in time.

Certainly, don't look for school officials to erect a life-size statue in his image and likeness outside the PMAC or retire his No. 25 jersey. That isn't going to happen unless he bequeaths millions of his NBA earnings to the school/athletic department. Why would he do that after only one season at LSU? Well, though he didn't come to Baton Rouge to get a diploma, LSU did serve as a finishing school in many respects.

But the most relevant numbers he will take with him to the next level is not a college GPA but rather PPG, RPG, APG and BPG, all vital basketball statistics that are currently worthy of him being considered for National Player of the Year, All-American and SEC Player of the Year honors.

That said, I'm curious to see how Jones and LSU treat Simmons' final home game (Missouri; March 1). Obviously, he is not a senior so he won't be a part of that traditional pomp and circumstance ceremony involving Keith Hornsby and Josh Gray. But Simmons also is not your run-of-the-mill freshman student-athlete at LSU, either.

There have been some good players come through the doors at LSU over the years -- Pete Maravich, Bob Petit, Shaq and Gulfport's Chris Jackson, to name a few. Even at age 19, Simmons certainly is in the same conversation.

I'm thinking the PA announcer at the PMAC should at least give a special acknowledgement to Simmons at the appropriate time.

Something like: "Ladies and gentlemen, playing in his final home game before moving on to the NBA where he is projected to become the first player taken in the June draft, 6-10 freshman Benjamin Simmons from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. ... Good Luck, Big Ben ... Thanks for the Memories."

No doubt, there will be the PMAC crazies shouting and waving placards in the stands -- "Three More Years ... Three More Years."

And Johnny Jones will be shedding tears.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a New Orleans-based reporter for the Sun Herald, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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