Have you ever heard of Dante Exum? No? Well he’s Australia’s best-kept secret and the player most likely to bust up your NCCA Final Four bracket.
And the best part about it is that he’ll still be a high school senior by the time the college basketball season starts.
That may sound weird, but this 6-foot-6 combo guard has the ability to do something that you rarely see. Before I even get started, let me give a little background. Exum is the 18-year-old son of former University of North Carolina forward, Cecil Exum, whose claim to fame — in the states — came from the 1982 national championship that Michael Jordan was famous for.
Yes, he was on that team. And yes, he received a ring for being a benchwarmer.
However, taking his game overseas led him to possibly gifting the world with one of Australia’s biggest exports in the form of a lanky kid who has the skills to juggle the future of two leagues in his hands.
“He’s in the unique position of not only being eligible for next June’s NBA Draft because as an international player he turns 19 in the year of the draft, but what makes him unique is he graduates high school in November,” ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla told Inside the Hall.
“If in fact he passes on the NBA Draft until 2015, he’s got a couple of more decisions to make. And they are: Does he enroll in college in December or does he enroll next September?”
And that’s where your March Madness brackets come in.
His play in the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit and the FIBA U19 world championships showed that he had the potential to turn the college season on its head — mainly because he had no problems playing on or off the ball.
At the Nike Hoop Summit, Exum showed that he could come off of the bench and still blend with a cast of stars like Atlanta Hawks first-round pick Dennis Schroeder and future No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins.
His speedy first step allowed him to get to the hoop at will, and his acrobatic finishes drew constant contact on the opposition; meanwhile, his near 6-foot-10 wingspan made it easy for his own tip-ins.
Exum ended the game with 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 23 minutes of play. A few months later, he finished a U19 quarterfinals victory with 33 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
If he were in the states, he would be waiting for the McDonald’s All-American game and feeling out the recruiting trail. But because of his early exit, he will be juggling thoughts of joining teams like Indiana, Duke or Kentucky by midseason.
That alone could be enough of an impact to push a contending team over the title hump, providing he goes that route.
Either way, his play over the summer impressed enough to have top draft experts like Chad Ford plugging him in at No. 3 on his 2014 NBA draft big board.
“I used to be like 90 percent to 10 that I was going to college, but recently they are saying that my stock has risen even more, that I could possibly go top five,” Exum said via the Melbourne Herald-Sun. “Now it’s more of a 50-50 decision.”
In due time, we’ll be able to tell which league the Aussie will attempt to dominate. Until then, everybody can debate the college versus money concerns.
Please comment using the section below, or reach out to us using the hash tag #RML, for Rant My Life or #RantCBB.