Simmons' shadow looms as Boomers gather in Melbourne

Boomer Chris Goulding understands fan frustration (0:48)

Australian Boomers guard Chris Goulding says there is still plenty of talent in Team USA following a number of recent omissions. (0:48)

The elephant in the room -- more specifically, the $[Aus]242 million athlete going through his paces at Melbourne's Sports and Aquatic Centre basketball court -- was always going to be the centre of attention when Australia's FIBA World Cup Squad converged in Melbourne for their first training session ahead of the exhibition games against Team USA.

Fresh from signing the richest contract in Australian sporting history, Simmons has been the subject of much analysis and angst after he firstly pulled out of the Boomers' World Cup plans and then subsequently made himself unavailable for the upcoming exhibition contests at Marvel Stadium.

The Boomers are doing all they can to distance themselves from the noise of Simmons' on-again-off-again relationship with the team, but it was obvious the squad was thrilled to have him on deck at the Melbourne selection camp.

San Antonio Spurs veteran Patty Mills and Boomers assistant Luc Longley both agreed the recently-turned 23-year-old's presence was a huge boost and would only benefit the squad's preparations for the team's end goal: A medal at the World Cup in China.

"Ben looked good today," Longley said.

"He said a while ago he was going to come in and help us prepare and be around the group. He did that today and it was fantastic.

"He brought the level of practice up a few notches."

After a flurry of Simmons-related questions, Longley was keen to change the subject, stating matter-of-factly: "There's lots of other good guys out there today too!"

He reiterated that "the clear goal for us is a medal and I believe we've got the [squad] to do it" before handing over to Mills to face the media.

Mills answered several questions about the Boomers' preparations and ambitions for the World Cup before a Basketball Australian media manager called time after just a few minutes. Mills then asked in mock surprise "what, no Ben questions?" and the media conference resumed - it was again time to focus on the player who wouldn't be taking to the court against Team USA or during the World Cup.

"He's obviously committed to being a valued part of our preparations for the World Cup ... he's part of our group, he will be for a long time," Mills said of Simmons.

"The best thing about it with Ben is, he's going to make us better at practice. The games are one thing but for him to go at us in practice is the best preparation for [the World Cup].

"We've all respected his decision but him being still committed to being part of the group and our preparations [is] huge. We'll continue to grow relationships with him and vice-versa -- we're one big family and we want to go and create history."

Whether or not the Boomers can create history without their star player at the upcoming World Cup remains to be seen. Also missing are fellow NBA players Dante Exum, Thon Maker and Ryan Broekhoff, meaning the Boomers' so-called 'golden generation' is still far from full strength.

The addition of Simmons will no doubt be a game-changer as far as any medal hopes go but until he does fully commit, questions will always remain. And he will always be the centre of attention, whether he's donning the green and gold or not.