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Fellow Aussies Ben Simmons, Dante Exum connect in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Moments after becoming the first rookie to record seven double-doubles in his first 10 games, a familiar face awaited Ben Simmons outside the visitors' locker room in Utah.

Injured Jazz guard Dante Exum and his father, Cecil, chatted with the 76ers rookie fresh off Philly’s 104-97 victory over Utah Tuesday night at the Vivint Arena.

Simmons put up 16 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in his Salt Lake City debut.

“I’m just happy I can do it in any way I can,” Simmons said.

Even while rocking a sling to nurse his injured left shoulder, Exum couldn’t miss his fellow Aussie.

“We go way back,” Exum said of their friendship. “It’s been a while, so like 15 or so years.

“Our parents were friends growing up, so obviously being in Australia, we’ve just been friends.”

Simmons said he’s known Exum since he was 8 years old from their time overseas. On Monday, the friends teamed up to play Call of Duty: WW2 via live stream.

“We’re playing team games, I’m at the top of the leaderboard but he’s got more kills,” Exum said.

Being around positive energy was refreshing for Exum as he recovers from his latest injury. Exum separated his shoulder during a Jazz preseason game against Phoenix.

“I’m feeling good,” Exum said. “Obviously, it’s a tough situation I’m in right now, but I’m looking forward and just trying to get better every day.”

His surgery was performed on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles to stabilize the AC joint. The fifth overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft played in 66 games last season, averaging a career-best 6.2 points and 2.0 rebounds.

There’s still no timetable on when he will return, but he enjoyed the video game competition against one of the league’s brightest stars.

As the rehabilitation process continues, he’s taking it day by day.

“It’s not too much now,” Exum said of his recovery status. “The surgeons kind of recommended what I needed to be doing at the moment.

“A lot of it’s just resting and letting the graft heal, but I’m doing a couple of range and movement stuff that’s kind of helping me get back.”