It’s a balmy late-June afternoon in mid-town Manhattan. As the humidity reaches uncomfortable levels outside, inside the air-conditioned confines of the Westin Hotel the heat is about to be turned up on the 2014 NBA lottery class as they get grilled by media nation-wide. Of all the hopeful lottery picks awaiting selection at Thursday’s draft, none has more intrigue attached to their name than Australian, Dante Exum.
The 6’6 point guard remains somewhat of an unknown commodity – especially to American media that have never seen him play, or even had a chance to speak with the young talent.
Exum’s table was one of the busiest on Wednesday, and he handled the fishbowl with great aplomb.
Read what Exum had to say about his journey to the NBA below.
On where he thinks he will be selected
“With drafts you don’t know. Everything’s up in the air. I worked out for [teams picking between] two through eight, I felt comfortable with all the workouts and I guess it’s in their hands now.”
How has his time at the A.I.S. has prepared him to play against elite-level competition?
“Being at the Australian Institute of Sport has helped me develop into a professional athlete, and taught me how to manage my body, my nutrition …. everything I need to know. Just coming into this situation doing all this media, I’ve done all that before, so it’s been easier to adjust to all this. On-court, I’ve had the best coaches in Australia coaching me for the past three or four years, so I know all the skills I need to have to go into the workouts and do good in them.”
On why he declined to play for Kentucky this past NCAA season
“Yeah, yeah, I talked to Coach Cal [John Calipari] and he brought up the idea. And the way I looked at it was, I wasn’t going to go onto a team that had already been established and had gone through [the] offseason …and try and come into the team and I guess, highlight myself or getting into the mix would have been difficult for me so it’s like an outsider coming in.”
On his visit to Philadelphia
“I got to see a lot of the city, and had dinner with Brett [Brown] and had a good talk about Australian basketball, and where it’s heading, so it was a very good time.
On which fellow Aussie Boomers have reached out to give him advice
“Joe Ingles. He’s my roommate, so he’s kind of been there, the guy that’s talking me through it. Andrew Bogut’s definitely reached out, Patty’s reached out. They’ve all reached out. Patty’s been going through the Finals and everything’s been crazy for him.”
What advice has his father, Cecil Exum, given him about his journey?
“He said, ‘Just enjoy the moment, you only get to do it once.’ He said that it runs by really fast, next thing you know it’s going to be 2030 and you’ve got two kids and … so, yeah. He said just to soak up the moment and enjoy everything.”
On if he’s visualized being picked
“I try not to think about it and over-think it because I have no clue where I’m going. Today I’m just a kid from Melbourne, Australia, and tomorrow I’m going to be living in a city where I don’t know where it is. I’m just looking forward to it.”
Bottom image via: @ESPNNBA