Exum makes good impression at pre-draft combine

Exum makes good impression at pre-draft combine
May 15, 2014, 6:30 pm
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(AP Images)

CHICAGO — The NBA combine has been a relatively ho-hum affair thus far; that is until Australian sensation Dante Exum entered the building.

This 18-year-old man of mystery from down under continues to attract crowds wherever he goes as well as the attention of NBA executives.

He has gone from being a Youtube sensation to a player that's at the top of several NBA team's Big boards as the projected top-3 picks - Duke's Jabari Parker and Kansas' Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins - all decided to not attend the combine.

It's a stretch at this point to consider the 6-foot-6 guard as a viable option with whoever has the No. 1 overall pick which won't be determined until the draft lottery on Tuesday.

But there's no question teams have an even more favorable impression of Exum after spending time with him at the combine.

"He's very polished, confident but not cocky," said one league official who interviewed Exum on Wednesday. "He'll be up and down like every rookie, but he definitely helped himself in being here this week."

One of the first things Exum did on Thursday was clear up the perception that the only team he wants to play for is the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Obviously the Lakers are a very good organization," Exum said. "But I'm in this draft to go to a place where I feel is a good fit for me. Whatever team that is, is the best place for me."

Exum is expected to have interviews with about 10 teams which according to Exum, will include the Boston Celtics.

Becoming more educated on Exum has been the mission for many this week. But he's quick to add that he too is in a learning phase.

"The most important thing I've learned is what gets you on the court is what gets you in the NBA, and most important keeps you in the NBA," Exum said. "That's the one thing I've taken very seriously, is how I prepare for games, prepare for my workouts. That is the one thing that is going to keep me in the NBA so I can have a long career."

Exum is the latest - and maybe the best ever - young talent to emerge from Australia.

Andrew Gaze, one of the greatest players ever to come out of Australia, has seen Exum rise through the junior ranks in addition to his time with the Australian national team.

"He (Exum) has got the potential to be a major impact player in the NBA," Gaze told the website, Sportal.com.AU. "His explosiveness off the dribble and his court smarts are such that he could have that type of impact in the NBA."

The potential for Exum to succeed in the NBA will depend in large part on which teams drafts him and the role that team envisions.

While Exum was clear in that he wasn't partial to playing for just the Lakers, he does have a list of things he wants in whatever team picks him in next month's NBA draft.

"I want to go with a team that's a good team, somewhere where I can fit right in, point guard or no point guard; it doesn't really matter," he said. "I'm willing to go into a role where I can learn or learn from experience. I guess there's really no bad situation, but there are better situations."