His father, Cecil Exum, played professional basketball, playing alongside Michael Jordan during college. Cecil was drafted in 1984 to the Denver nuggets in the NBA, and later settled in Australia, playing for a couple of Melbourne teams.
While Dante is still somewhat unknown in Australia, this is all about to change. He is touted to be the fourth overall pick in the next NBA draft, which would make him the second highest Australian to be drafted into the NBA ever, discounting Kyrie Irving who only lived in Australia until he was 2 years old.
Dante is a combo guard meaning he can play both point guard and shooting guard positions. These are the most important positions on the court and also the hardest to draft because of a multitude of reasons, most specifically; athleticism, shooting consistency and ability to run the tactics the coach has set out.
A perfect example of someone Dante will be trying to imitate, is Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. Paul is a seven time all star, and is the epitome of point guards in the NBA. In some circles he is considered to be on the path to being one of the greatest ever in his position despite only being 28 years old. This is due to his amazingly high IQ, accurate shot selection and his court vision which helps him assist all his team mates. This is a ceiling that Dante Exum will be aiming for.
Dante Exum is most likely going to be the number 4 player in the 2014 draft. At this moment that would mean that the Los Angeles Lakers have the biggest chance to sign the 6’6’’ combo guard. This would be a massive opportunity for Exum, because he would get to play with, and get mentored by, future hall of fame, and one of the greatest to play the game, Kobe Bryant.
Bryant is the ideal mentor for young Exum due to his tenacity, competitiveness and will to win. This would give Dante a huge platform from which to get settled into his NBA career. Many prospects have either failed or stumbled due to not having the right mentor or not having one at all. This means Dante Exum could have a leg up to some of the other top 10 prospects such as Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid.
Dante has been compared to being a mix of former Orlando magic player Penny Hardaway and Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook, because of his extraordinary athleticism and his high basketball IQ. This helps Dante run for easy transition baskets or driving down the lane and also helps him to spot up his team mates for easy shots.
Dante does, however, have some weaknesses. His shot selection is very inconsistent and he has not yet been tested at a level that would be even close to the NBA. This should put scouts off, however his incredible talents have kept scouts watching his every move very closely.
So with all his skills combined with his hard working demeanour, Dante has the best chance out of any young talent in Australian sport to take the mantel of best athlete in Australia. Not only can Dante be an example for many of the young budding basketball players, he is also passionate about promoting basketball in Australia.
"I definitely want to do something in Australia that would get the fans involved (with basketball)," Dante said. "I want to reach out over here because Australia is kind of hidden from the NBA, like definitely getting pre-season games here. Just promoting the game here is something I’d want to do.”
Annemarie de Villiers is studying sports science and has a dream to be a sports scientist for a professional club. Born in South Africa, raised in New Zealand and tertiary professionally qualified in Melbourne Australia.
Annmarie de Villers' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/annemarie-de-villiers.html