It was an obvious question considering Brett Brown's background.

The 76ers coach was asked Monday if he received many phone calls from friends in Australia about the prospects of drafting Ben Simmons first overall.

"I get hit up all over the place," Brown acknowledged about drafting the Australian, who played last season at Louisiana State.

Catching himself in midsentence, the former coach of the Australian national team turned diplomatic. He followed those eight words with ". . . just like Brandon [Ingram], just like I would with Kris Dunn or Buddy Hield."

Make no mistake about it: The phone calls Brown received from Down Under have to be a little different.

That's because the NBA's popularity is rising in Australia. Seven Aussies - Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes, Dante Exum, Cameron Bairstow, and Joe Ingles - were on NBA rosters this season. That number doesn't account for nearby New Zealand, which boasts Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Simmons, a Melbourne native, is projected to be the best of the bunch. Assuming the Sixers select him first in the draft June 23, he'll play for Brown, one of Australia's favorite adopted sons.

Brown was an assistant coach of the Melbourne Tigers of the Australian National Basketball League from 1988 to 1993.

He was named the head coach of the North Melbourne Giants in 1993. A year later, Brown was named the National Basketball League coach of the year after leading North Melbourne to the title.

After six seasons, Brown took a volunteer job with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999. He returned to Australia in 2000 to coach the Sydney Kings for two seasons before going back to San Antonio in 2002 as the full-time player development coach. Brown was promoted to the bench before the 2006-07 season. He left the Spurs in August 2013 to take over the Sixers.

Brown also coached the Aussie national team to a seventh-place finish in the 2012 London Olympics.

So, of course, the phone calls from Australia are different from those he gets about Ingram, Dunn, and Hield. Australian reporters, who cover the NBA in New York, will be making the trek down I-95 on a regular basis if the Sixers draft Simmons.

"Think of . . . the unusual circumstance to end up where I have personally ended up with the history that I've had with the [Simmons] family and the coaches that have coached him," said Brown, who coached Simmons' father, David, with the Tigers. "I know very, very closely the people that have worked with him across the board."

Brown said that was one of the benefits of living in Australia, 20 minutes away from the Simmons family, for so many years

Even though Brown tries to downplay it, his ties to Australia, the nation's basketball, and the Simmons family have folks Down Under excited about the possibility of the Sixers drafting the LSU star.

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.philly.com/deepsixer