Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “He wasn’t even playing and everybody was rushing him, too,” said Ahmaad Rorie, a former Montverde Academy guard who now plays at the University of Montana. “It was just like, these dudes are stars already.” The entire team got swept up in its two best players’ popularity. “It was crazy, we would walk in and they’d pile up at the door,” said forward Makinde London, a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga forward. “Couldn’t even walk down the hall. It was unreal.”Today, Russell is one of the Lakers’ brightest young stars, and Simmons, who spent last season at LSU, is the assumed No.1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft. However, for a year and a half, the two formed one of the most dominant tandems in prep basketball, leading Montverde to a 45-2 record and national championships in 2013 and ’14.“It was us two vs. everybody,” Russell said Tuesday after the Lakers introduced Luke Walton as their new head coach. “When you and me are on this floor, we’re doing everything to make each other better. Practice was the same way.” A reunion isn’t likely to happen in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers have reportedly vowed to select Simmons first overall and the Lakers, who own the No.2 pick, appear to have settled on Duke forward Brandon Ingram.However, the memory of Russell and Simmons wreaking havoc on other high school teams is wild enough. One can only wonder: What was it like to be on a team with two of the top picks in consecutive NBA drafts? “I’ve answered this question in so many different forms. Literally 2,000 different times,” former guard Brendan Boyle said. “Everyone wants to know about that.” Simmons arrived at Montverde midway through his sophomore season, the son of former Australian Basketball League star Dave Simmons. “We didn’t know much about him, he was a kid from Australia,” said Justin Bibbs, now a junior guard at Virginia Tech. It didn’t take long to figure things out, however. “It was pretty evident that he was at a certain level that he wasn’t polished for yet,” said Boyle, whose father is Montverde coach Kevin Boyle. Montverde Academy, located outside Orlando, Fla., is a prep basketball powerhouse, a boarding school that annually lures the top players in the country. Brendan Boyle called Montverde “a little ‘Blue Mountain State’ in the middle of nowhere in Florida,” referencing a comedy television series that glamorizes the wild lives of college football players. After spending his freshman year of high school in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., Russell transferred to Montverde in 2011 and played with Joel Embiid, another 76ers lottery pick.Russell’s senior season, at least 11 players on the Eagles roster went on to play at Division I colleges. “Ninety-nine percent of high school teams would have zero to one,” Boyle said. Simmons and Russell were clearly the teams stars, even if they didn’t also seem to have much else in common.One was a trash talker and liked to goof around. The other, Simmons, was quieter, even when Russell would talk trash during practice. “Ben wasn’t really a talker,” Rorie said. “He would just go out and play. So, D’Angelo might say something, Ben would come down and have like three dunks in a row.”In contrast with a Hollywood image brought on by a documentary film crew following Simmons since his senior year in high school, Rorie said Simmons doesn’t necessarily seek the spotlight. The two were roommates in 2013-14 and Rorie remembers Simmons committing to LSU from his dorm room, even as national television networks were begging him to make his choice on TV. “He just called the coach and said he was committing,” Rorie said. “I remember his phone was going crazy after that.” Simmons was happy spending his spare time in his room, playing video games. He was not as social as Russell, who could often be found at the ping-pong table and was known for pulling pranks.At the time, Smack Cam — the act of hitting an unsuspecting victim in the face, often with a palm full of whipped cream, and filming it — was a popular YouTube prank. Russell brought it to Montverde. One time, he balled up the lint from a dryer, hid it behind a door and called the dorm supervisor, claiming to have seen a rat. “It was always something with him,” Bibbs said. “Doesn’t matter. When he wakes up he’s playing a prank, going to bed he’s doing a prank. Always.” Where Russell and Simmons connected, predictably, was on the court. When Montverde trailed a New Jersey team featuring future Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe, Russell lit into his team at halftime. “He just took leadership of our team at that point,” Boyle said. Russell remembered the game clearly.“They were winning, talking the craziest trash you could think of,” he said. “And we just took over from there. Like, come on now, no comparison. You guys are just a regular Jersey school, we’re supposed to be this type of school, let’s make it happen.”The Eagles were supposed to be special.Russell scored 26 points to carry Montverde to a victory, and Simmons helped facilitate. “That doesn’t always fly with another star,” Boyle said, “but a guy like Ben, he sees that. He sees, ‘Oh, D’Angelo, he’s going to make a play, I’m going to let him go.’” The chemistry between the two players had many Montverde alumni and supporters hoping the Lakers would land the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery and use it on Simmons.Montverde’s colors, like LSU’s and like those of the Lakers, are purple and gold.“That’s something that you make up in a video game,” Boyle said. “Not something that happens in real life.” Hundreds of people surrounded Ben Simmons as the phenom made his way toward the locker room before a game at a Florida tournament less than three years ago. Fans of every age begged for autographs and snapped photos, as Simmons — still two years away from playing in college, let alone the NBA — slowly made his way through the mob of admirers.An eye-catching performance by the high school junior in Montverde Academy’s previous game, 31 points and 13 rebounds, made him a celebrity at the City of Palms Classic. Eventually, he reached the locker room.The crowd did not disperse, but reassembled around one of Simmons’ teammates, an injured senior point guard who entered the gym behind Simmons. That player was D’Angelo Russell.
Safeway Open 2019: Cameron Champ takes 3-shot lead as Bryson DeChambeau struggles All the emotions.The winning moment for @Cameron__Champ and his family @SafewayOpen. pic.twitter.com/FzM6nqokVK— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 30, 2019Champ was seeking his first Tour victory since taking out last year’s Sanderson Farms Championship. He carried a three-stroke lead into the final day.The eventual victory put him in a unique category. Champ became the first player to win in the fall portion of back-to-back seasons since Justin Thomas and Brendan Steele completed the feat in the fall of 2016 and 2017.He birdied four holes on the front nine — his only blemish a bogey at the par-4 8th — before dropping the 17th but regrouping with a title-sealing birdie.Hadwin, who was three shots off the pace at the start of the day, recorded eight birdies and three bogeys as he pushed Champ to the limit. Stephen Curry, Phil Mickelson ‘ham-and-egg’ it in Safeway Open pro-am Two-time CHAMP. @Cameron__Champ has won the @SafewayOpen! pic.twitter.com/DeyFm1GGLY— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 30, 2019Marc Leishman finished outright third (14 under) thanks to his seven-under-par 65 and a shot ahead of the fourth-place trio Charles Howell III, Zac Blair and Justin Thomas who all finished the weekend at 13 under.Thomas, the winner of the 2017 FedEx Cup and PGA Championship, had to settle for the tie following four birdies and a bogey.Bryson DeChambeau held the lead at the halfway stage of the tournament, however, the five-time PGA Tour champion finished tied for 13th (10 under) after back-to-back rounds in the 70’s. Safeway Open 2019: Bryson DeChambeau pulls clear; Tony Romo misses cut However, Champ holed a three-foot, eight-inch birdie putt at the 18th to claim his second PGA Tour title.Champ carded his fourth consecutive round in the 60’s — a three-under-par 69 in the final day of play — to finish 17 under, ahead of Hadwin, who finished in second (16 under) at Silverado Country Club. Related News Cameron Champ held off a surging Adam Hadwin to claim the Safeway Open by one shot in a thrilling finale.Hadwin birdied three consecutive holes to close out his final round to take a share of the lead in Napa, California on Sunday.