Even before Australia’s recent surprising finish at the FIBA World Under-19 Championship earlier this week, Melbourne-born Dante Exum was poised for NBA stardom.
Exum put on a show at this year’s tournament, held in Prague, averaging over 18 points per game and earning a spot in the All-Tournament team alongside probable 2014 NBA lottery picks Jahlil Okafor, Aaron Gordon, Dario Saric (Croatia) and Vasilje Milic (Serbia).
Undecided as to whether he’ll declare for the draft next year or attend college and declare in 2015 in what will likely just be a one-year stopover before moving to the NBA, Exum led Australia’s young Emus further than expected and all the way to bronze medal game, eventually losing to Lithuania 106-100 in overtime.
Exum is the son of former NBL import Cecil Exum, a former teammate of Michael Jordan and James Worthy during North Carolina’s 1982 NCAA championship season, and grew up in Melbourne after his father became a naturalised citizen after a seven-year pro career in Australia.
The 17-year-old, 198cm point guard is being touted as high as the third best prospect from the 2014 class and has suitors from America’s most storied colleges, including the likes of NCAA champion Louisville, Indiana, Louisiana State, Michigan and Kentucky.
The basketball world appears ready to hitch itself to Exum. ESPN expert Fran Fraschilla tweeted the following during Exum’s 33-point performance against Spain- “Every now & then over thirty years you watch someone special. Today it's Dante Exum. 22 points as Aussies surprising Spain right now, 66-48.”
As the likes of Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes each make noise as Australians in the NBA, Exum looks set to join the Boomers trio among the world's best players, maybe even exceeding their accomplishments in a few short years.
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