Ben Simmons has been tabbed the "Next LeBron." Perhaps similar to Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, he started his college career as the consensus best player not only in his class, but in the entire country. Whether that distinction was earned or not is irrelevant: Simmons was supposed to be a superstar in college basketball this year.
One thing is clear: Simmons really is a great basketball player. Another thing that is abundantly obvious: His team his terrible. LSU is so bad, in fact, that it's not yet Christmas and we've already cemented a third demoralizing fact: Ben Simmons will not be playing in this spring's March Madness tournament.
The Tigers this season are a bad basketball team. They're just 4-4, but they've played some of the worst opponents you could cook up for a major conference team. Two of those losses were to Charleston and Houston. The rest of the schedule is so bad that, as TheBigLead notes, the loss to Houston actually increased the team's RPI from 210 to 186.
That's not good. There's a chance Simmons and his team catch fire and blaze through the SEC, but even that presents a challenge given the strength of the conference's best teams. The non-conference schedule will feature no wins of even modest respectability, effectively digging a huge hole for LSU to climb out of.
In other words, this team has almost no chance of making the NCAA Tournament. And that could make for a weird March.
Although hyped freshman rarely wind up leading their teams to a deep tourney run -- for every Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony there are guys like Wiggins and Jabari Parker, who couldn't lead their teams anywhere close to greatness -- we always expect to see the country's best players compete in that crazy, win-or-die tournament bracket.
This year, the best player in the country will likely be watching from home, completely able-bodied by handicapped by a subpar team.
Simmons chose this fate, of course, by ignoring much greater basketball programs to pick the one he loved. And yes, his NBA future is perfectly safe despite these disappointing results. But in all likelihood, he will come and go from college basketball without ever making an impact.
It just goes to show you that a single star can't make his own good fortune: Simmons might have thought he could carry an otherwise terrible team, but instead he's showing the limited impact one single superstar can make on a program.