Young Aussie point guard set to be picked in the top five in tonight’s draft.
No matter which team elects to read out Dante Exum’s name in New York tonight, the 18-year-old’s life is about to be turned upside down.
Exum has largely come out of nowhere in the past 18 months to become one of the most frequently named prospects for the 2014 draft, along with the likes of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid.
And Exum revealed he has been getting advice from one of the game’s all-time greats in Kobe Bryant about how to adjust to life in the pros.
The connection between the undrafted talented and future Hall-of-famer Bryant is not a surprise given the pair share the same representation.
But that did not stop Exum from getting a nudge in the right direction from Bryant, who could still be a teammate of Exum’s if he does fall lower in the draft than expected and lands in LA’s lap at number seven.
“He (Bryant) was just all about saying you’ve got to focus on everything on the court because there’s going to be a lot of distractions,” Exum said from New York.
“He [Bryant] said I’m going have a long career if I just keep everything basketball related and stay focused”.
Unlike some of his draft-classmates, Exum’s game has not been picked over for months on end by scouts and pundits.
He has only played in the US a handful of times while others got a better look at the athletic point guard when he starred for Australia at the Under-19 World Championship.
What flaws he does have in his game at this stage have been talked about.
His lack of a consistent jump shot and questions over his ability to efficiently run an offence and cut down on turnovers are two minor red flags for some teams.
But the player himself says he is ready for the big time and will bring it for whichever teams read his name out on Thursday night in New York.
“I’ve been here for four months and I’ve been training with the best, and going up against NBA players here. I think I’m just as ready as anybody else,” he said.