Dante Exum finished school at the Australian Institute of Sport on Friday and now the basketball world awaits his next move.
The 6-foot-6 Exum may take some visits to American colleges in the coming months, with Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan and Oregon making his list of finalists.
Even if he visits schools, however, he may still end up in the 2014 NBA Draft, where he is projected as the No. 3 pick behind Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle by DraftExpress.com.
“It’s been one of my dreams for a while. I always look at results and try to put myself in that situation in a way,” Exum told Australia’s Herald Sun of a future in the NBA.
Exum was recently quoted as saying that “wants to be picked Top 10.”
One NBA executive told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford that he would actually take Exum No. 1 overall — ahead of Wiggins, Randle and Jabari Parker.
“I know everyone is so excited to see Jabari and those guys dominate,” one GM told ESPN. “I know the old guard is going to play it safe. But maybe I’m young and foolish, but I think Exum ends up being the guy everyone wishes they took in a few years. All of them are going to be great, but when you watch Exum, you see the ability to be a generational talent. My owner might kill me, but I think you take Exum, regardless of what the other guys do this year. Exum’s already proved it to me.”
Still, several other NBA executives disagreed, with one telling SNY.tv it would take some “big stones” for a GM to draft Exum, an Australian with limited experience, over American studs like Wiggins, Randle, Parker and Aaron Gordon, whose highlights are being showcased daily on SportsCenter.
“I do not know him well enough but it will be difficult for any GM to take a guy who is a foreigner and will probably not play anywhere this year,” one NBA executive told SNY.tv. “It would take big stones to take a kid [like that] with Wiggins, Parker, Randle, [Marcus] Smart and Gordon getting a lot of play all year. It’s a big-time gamble with Exum unless he ends up playing somewhere to get footage and traction from the media.”
On the other hand, it is probably to Exum’s advantage that he hasn’t been seen that much. Outside of his excellent play in the FIBA U19 World Championship and the Nike Global Summit, he has remained something of a mystery.
He may opt to play in Australia between now and the NBA Draft, but if he doesn’t that may also work to his advantage.
His stock is high right now and why would he want to jeopardize that?
Nothing grabs the attention of NBA GM’s come draft time like the whiff of upside and potential.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.