By Andrew Porter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If only the Philadelphia 76ers could find the next LeBron James. That would solve everything, wouldn’t it?

The Sixers are in year three of a rebuilding — some prefer tanking — situation, and at 1-26, fans are hopeful this is the year their team acquires the No. 1 overall pick.

Because this year, there is one college basketball player that stands out above all of his peer. His name is Ben Simmons and at 6’10”, 225-pounds, LSU’s freshman sensation is drawing comparisons to King James.

“He is [Lebron James],” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli said when asked about Simmons. “That’s who he is.”

Listen: Phil Martelli on the 94WIP Morning Show

 

“Now watch — whether he can impact the game because anatomically LeBron was ridiculous at the age of 15 or 16. But Ben Simmons basketball — he throws the ball and passes the ball as hard right-handed as he does left-handed. He leads the country in rebounding. He is a spotty outside shooter. But he is the one guy that has come along — and to each their own.”

The last three drafts, the Sixers have acquired talented players in Nerlens Noel in 2013, Jahlil Okafor last summer, and — hopefully — Joel Embiid in 2014. But Simmons, says Martelli, trounces them all.

“The decision that they [the Sixers] have made to go with these younger guys, to tank, whatever people want to call it — to acquire top three or five picks — this group has been OK and it’s being proven out by how many of them have been traded,” Martelli said. “This guy is a generational player. He’s an absolutely generational player. He really plays a pro game now, it will be whether he can reach those levels and be an all-timer will be dependent upon his perimeter shooting.”

Simmons is averaging a ridiculous line of 18.1 points, 14.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 2.3 steals in nine NCAA games. He’s must watch TV.