Projected number one draft pick Ben Simmons signs with Nike

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LSU forward Ben Simmons is projected to be the number one pick in this year's NBA draft and the youngster is already building his brand off the court. 

Recently, the 19-year-old signed with Klutch Sports Group - the agency that represents LeBron James and is owned by James' friend, Rich Paul - and has now confirmed his first major endorsement deal. 

The Australian announced on Tuesday that he has agreed a deal with sportswear giant Nike which will see him don their sneakers on the court. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but according to ESPN, Simmons opted to sign a smaller deal with Nike ahead of rivals adidas who were also interested in snapping up the talented young player.

According to a report by Yahoo Sports last month, Nike made an offer of $7.5 million over five years, while adidas offered $10m over the same period.

The Melbourne native, though, wanted to wait until after the Draft Lottery before making a decision 

He officially made the announcement on the Twitter feed of Uninterrupted on Tuesday - the multimedia site owned by LeBron.

"I'd like to announce I've signed with Nike," Simmons said. "I'm excited. I'm blessed. It's an amazing opportunity for me and my family of course."

The decision to side with Nike shouldn't come as a major surprise as the brand has close ties with Klutch where the majority of their clients are contracted to Nike - most notably James. 

The King signed a seven-year, $90 million deal when he made the jump from high school to the NBA and last year solidified his commitment to Nike by signing a lifetime deal.

With this deal now out of the way, the LSU product can now focus solely on the upcoming draft on June 23. 

The Philadelphia 76ers own the top pick in this year's draft and are expected to select either Simmons or Duke's Brandon Ingram. 

Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in his only season in college and many experts claimed it was a formality that he'd be taken with the first pick, but the rise of Ingram has now put this in some doubt.

His stock decreased slightly after LSU failed to make the NCAA tournament after finishing with a 19-14 record.

That is unlikely to deter the 76ers, though, as they seek to change their fortunes after another dreadful season where they ended the year with the league's worst record of 10-72. 

The franchise parted company with general manager Sam Hinkie and hired Bryan Colangelo who has promised to bring a winning culture to the City of Brotherly Love.

With Joel Embiid fit to finally make his debut next season and after Jahlil Okafor's promising rookie year, the future of the Sixers should look a lot brighter.

If Philly decides to opt for Ingram instead, however, Simmons will be suiting up in a Purple and Gold uniform with the L.A. Lakers, another franchise looking for a spark. 

All eyes will be on the draft later this month to find out how it all unfolds.

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LeBron James
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