LEXINGTON, Ky. — LSU said Saturday that freshman Ben Simmons is ineligible for the John R. Wooden Award that will be presented to the nation’s top player.
The 15-player list of men’s finalists was released Saturday minus the 6-foot-10 forward, who entered Saturday’s 94-77 loss at No. 22 Kentucky averaging 19.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Several reports Saturday stated that Simmons was academically ineligible for the award, but LSU athletics spokesman Michael Bonnette said only that the player didn’t meet the award’s requirements, without being specific.
LSU coach Johnny Jones said after the game that he “wasn’t sure” why Simmons was ineligible but was told the player did not meet all of the award’s criteria.
The coach added, “I think Ben is a very competitive player and I think he works extremely hard to be able to succeed. And because of his efforts there are accolades that are out there and when you fall short of them, I’m sure it’s disappointing. But I’m certain it’s something he can move on from.”
The award’s criteria says that candidates must be full-time students with consideration “given to scholastic achievement and aspirations.” Candidates also must have cumulative grade point averages of 2.0 since enrolling.
Simmons didn’t start a Feb. 20 loss at Tennessee for what Jones said then was an academic issue. The Australian remains eligible for other national awards.
Simmons finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds against Kentucky.