Exum ready to realise NBA dream in Utah

For a kid from Melbourne, Dante Exum sees Salt Lake City as the perfect place to realise his NBA dream.


Away from the big smoke, in a city with a population 20-times smaller than his home town, the 18-year-old hopes to use it to his advantage.

“Who knows how long it’s going to take me to get accustomed to the NBA game – it could be a day, it could be a year, it could be two,” Exum said moments after being selected by the Utah Jazz with the fifth pick in the NBA Draft.

“So being a bit hidden from the hype of the LAs, the Miamis, the New Yorks, it does help a bit.

“But I’m going in from day one trying my hardest and trying to make an impression.”

The 198cm tall point guard will sign a two-year contract with the Jazz worth about $US4.5 million ($A4.87 million) per season.

Exum has already cashed in with major endorsement deals with companies including adidas and Red Bull.

The other Australian taken in the draft was University of New Mexico power forward Cameron Bairstow, who went to the Chicago Bulls with the 49th pick.

Exum was tipped to go to the Philadelphia 76ers with the third pick, or possibly No.1 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers instead used their top pick on Kansas shooting guard Andrew Wiggins, while the Milwaukee Bucks took Duke forward Jabari Parker.

With the 76ers nabbing injured centre Joel Embiid and Orlando Magic getting Aaron Gordon with the fourth pick, Exum was left waiting a little longer than expected.

He and his agent had turned down an invitation to visit the Jazz, partly because they already boasted a star point guard in Trey Burke.

“With the time schedule and everything that was happening, we didn’t see working out at Utah as a benefit,” said Exum, who is yet to meet new coach Quin Snyder.

“But it worked out well. It doesn’t really matter at the moment. I’m just glad to be selected by Utah.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling.

“Tomorrow I’m going to be heading to Utah and I think that’s when it’ll start to sink in, that that’s where I’m going to be living and playing basketball for the next couple of years.”

Exum was considered a wildcard in the draft because he didn’t play US college basketball and most NBA executives, coaches and scouts had never seen him play a game in person.

He admitted the Jazz had taken a risk but said he was ready to prove his worth.

“I don’t regret not going to college. It was my choice and I’m going to stick by that,” he added.

“I guess you’d call me a gamble, because everyone in the draft is a gamble.

“You don’t know how it’s going to work out and how their game’s going to translate into the NBA.

“I think I’m ready to make the step. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.”

The teenage sensation, who a year ago was a high school student in Canberra, played AFL growing up before his US-born father and former NBL star Cecil steered him to basketball.

Exum and Bairstow join countrymen Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors), Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Aron Baynes (Spurs) and Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers) in the NBA.