Exum in “unique position” as he weighs college vs. NBA

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As one of the top prospects in the class of 2014, Dante Exum has no shortage of suitors that would like to bring him to a college campus.

But Exum’s situation is different than most of the elite 2014 prospects who will enroll in college next summer. The 6-foot-6 combo guard, who plays at the Australia Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, could skip college altogether and go straight into the 2014 NBA Draft, which further complicates his recruitment.

“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 and NBA Draft 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?”

Indiana is the only school to receive an official visit from Exum thus far, but his play in recent months has fueled speculation that he could forgo college altogether and go straight to the NBA.

He was dominant in the FIBA U19 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic earlier this summer and after his play at that event, Exum moved up to No. 3 overall in the Draft Express 2014 NBA mock draft.

“In my opinion, and some other people share this, he could go as high as No. 1,” Fraschilla, who covers international prospects for ESPN, said. “But I doubt seriously he’s going any lower than five. So the schools that are recruiting him now have got to look at it like it’s a pipe dream if they get him because they may not ever see him on their campus.”

Exum’s situation is different from many international prospects because his father, Cecil, was born in the United States and played at North Carolina, where he won a national championship in 1982.

The opportunity to compete for a championship before moving on to the NBA could be appealing to Exum.

“If he goes to college, he has the legacy of what his dad accomplished at North Carolina, albeit as a role player,” Fraschilla said. “So he’s accustomed to knowing the stories about his dad playing with Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins, etc. There’s the legacy of his dad going to college and there’s also the idea that he’ll only be 20 years old if he’s in the 2015 NBA Draft.”

Exum burst onto the radar in the United States with a spectacular performance at last summer’s adidas Nations and has continued his ascent since that time.

His most recent display of dominance came in Prague where he led Australia to an upset of Spain in the FIBA U19 World Championship quarterfinals with 33 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. He was fouled 18 times in the game.

Fraschilla was in Prague for that event and came away convinced that Exum is one of the top young players in the world.

“I’ve really keyed in on him the last 12 months and he’s got some Michael Jordan in his game,” Fraschilla said. “That’s not to say that he’s going to end up as one of the great players of all-time, but he moves and plays like a young Michael Jordan. He can play the one, he can play the two, he can shoot the 3, he can defend, he can slash to the basket, he gets to the rim effortlessly. There’s some similarities there.

“At 18 right now, you’ve got to throw him in with (Jahlil) Okafor and maybe one or two other guys as the best young players in the world. So if he gets drafted next year, and he’s in the top five picks, he goes No. 3 or No. 4, it means teams value him as potentially a great player.”

As for his recruitment stateside, Exum’s visit to Bloomington is the only one he’s taken thus far. At the FIBA U19 World Championships, Exum said he would look closer at his recruitment and his next move at the conclusion of the event.

Besides IU, schools like Boise State, Colorado, Duke, Georgetown, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Southern Methodist, UCLA, Vanderbilt have all been mentioned as potential suitors.

“The schools that are likely going to recruit him the hardest are going to look at him like the dessert after a great meal,” Fraschilla said. “Like, ‘let’s just eat our meal and if Dante decides to enroll at our school, it’s like getting a great desert after the meal.’ You can’t put all of your eggs in his basket.”

  • BrianS

    It doesn’t hurt to dream a little!

  • xCowHoosier

    “Southern Methodist”…that just made my day.

  • Hoosier10

    Don’t sleep on them, their head coach is Larry Brown. He could have a lot of pull with his NBA experience

  • A. J.

    Interesting that North Carolina wasn’t mentioned as a school who is interested in him since his father played there. Hmm, either Roy is awash with talent, or there are sour grapes about his father being a “role player” instead of a starter. Or maybe Roy is asleep at the wheel? LOL

  • metz

    Not sure why that’s so funny. Larry Brown is no Joke. High school kids looking to make it to the next level appreciate his NBA background. Granted, he’s not going to pull the kids Crean, Izzo, Cal, etc… pull.

  • HoosierTrav

    It could either be the first or last scenario.

  • cdog

    I think Quentin Snider, Robert Hill, or Ahmad Hill, are the more realistic guard possibilities for 2014. Unless Williams can play the SG position, we only have three guards in 2014 (Yogi, Stan, and Blackman). I think we need two guards and at least one true center in this class. The class will probably be 3-4 in size. I think we can pretty much assume that all scholarship players due to return in 2014 will not all be there.

  • cdog

    Robert Johnson…sorry.

  • HoosierTrav

    I really hope we get this kid. If Vonleh were to come back and we add Blackmon, Exum, and Okonoboh….. We are a very legit threat to win it all.

  • Guest

    He’s got to be our priority, him and Yogi running the point with blackmon, vonleh, and fish/Hanner is a deadly starting lineup. I could see our weightlifting program become a reason he comes to IU. If he adds 15 pounds to that frame he’s going to be really hard to guard.

  • N71

    What would you do if you were Dante assuming you finish high school this November? Or in other words, what’s the best path to prepare yourself for the NBA? If the draft is in the Spring I’d probably come to the US in late January, spend time with a high profile player development group, and work with an agent to promote myself. That takes me from going to high school though to being at the center of the universe…do I want that right now? I’d prefer a one or two year transition via college ball and then look for a place I can continue to develop. If I could get a jump on things in December 2013 and have a degree in 2.5 years from the likes of Indiana for example, man…that’s appealing.

  • aHoopandaPrayer

    If he goes NBA, it will sting but make sense. If he goes Kentucky or UL it will be crushing.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Fran is the first guy I have heard that has even suggested anyone but Wiggins could go #1. Everyone else seems to think Andrew Wiggins is the best prospect since Lebron James or Kevin Durant (I’ve seen him play a couple of times and he is great, I’m not knocking him). I would agree with him (even if it’s misspelled in the quote), if Exum decides to come to college and chooses IU, it would be dessert but it’s not something I’m counting on or expecting.

  • xCowHoosier

    I hear you…it was mainly just the randomness of having SM listed I guess; just made me laugh

  • Gregory Spera

    If I were him, I would go straight to the NBA. How much “development” does one year of college ball give him over one year in the NBA? If you have enough talent (and he does, apparently), then why not? That said, it’s tough enough just recruiting against Kentucky and Duke. This is ridiculous.

  • Bobby

    Did Fran Fraschilla use the word “desert” or is it just “dessert” mispelled? This is one of those confusing typos to the reader. Exum would be a huge get for Crean. It sounds like matching him up with a shooter like Blackmon and a shot blocker like Goodluck would create a pretty outstanding recruiting core. I’d be ecstatic if that was the class. Throw in Leron Black and I would have zero compaints.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    if CTC’s still recruiting him heavily it seems to me that would indicate there’s at the very least a moderate chance he’s gonna play college bb, right? i just wonder if he’d be a true program one-and-done (which i concede may be an oxymoron) or simply a guy who’ll see his one year in college as an nba audition (see last year’s pUKe frosh)

  • plane1972

    Once you get to the NBA, basketball becomes a job. A high-paying job, yes, but no longer playing for just the enjoyment. Hard to say no to that much money, but there is something to be said for the enjoyment of a year or two in college. Take out a fat insurance policy and go to class for a year or two. You never get this chance again.

  • WisconHoosier

    Brown is 73 years old. He could teach Exum the underhand set shot from the top of the key . . .

  • Ole Man

    We don’t need another guard for ’14. We need a big like Goodluck.
    But if we take a guard, it should be Exum.

  • b_side

    Not to get too business-y here, but I would say going to school for one year begins the brand building process for future endorsements. The amount of visibility he’d get as a top-tier player in the NCAAs having grown up on the other side of the world can work to his advantage. Obviously we know his name being readers of ITH, but millions of other b-ball fans (regardless of team affiliation) who don’t follow AAU or international competition won’t have the slightest clue about Exum.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is maybe he’d get a better shoe deal after the draft if he plays a year of college ball. That said, like you and many others on here, I see him going to straight to the pros if he maintains his top 5 status.

  • Mooks

    I honestly think were gonna get this guy and Goodluck, I think their just waiting until the fall signing period to get last second vibes of other programs or weight their options. Honestly I’m Ok with Exum being a 1 and Done Player for IU, I’d rather have him for a year than zero years.

  • BC

    He is probably going to wait to see who is a NC contender for next year. See how his stock is come winter. Who actually has a scholly for him by that time. Compare the ’14 class to the ’15 class and how much chance he has of going number one. And finally, figure out what he actually wants to do. If he is being talked about as a top 5 pick, and he is still talking about college, then he genuinely is interested in going to school.

  • IUMIKE1

    That’s a good point and one I hadn’t thought about. You know that the guys who hand out the endorsement $’s know about him. Someone with his type of talent and who is without much doubt going to be making a whole lot of money in a year or two has to be looking at the big picture. In the big picture him doing what you say makes a whole lot of sense cause while the guys that hand out the $’s may know who he is they will be quicker to hand out even more money to him if he explodes onto the college bball scene and makes himself a well known commodity to the target group the $’s guys are wanting to reach.

  • IUMIKE1

    Aka, College of Larry Brown.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i certainly appreciate your optimism! not that we haven’t already gotten plenty of validation that iu’s back on the map with regard to elite recruiting, but would be exciting to have a couple more nba-ready kids.

  • Lars Miller

    Curious, could he come to the states in December join a school’s team and play the rest of the year and then still go the NBA draft in 2014?? Cause I mean that seems like a better option than just working out for 6 months, you’d actually be able to play live competition at a high level.

  • Sandra Wilson

    I.U. fans should not condemn Kentucky for recruiting one and done players and then hope to recruit this kid. Go after the good Indiana H.S. players. You get them, you’ll win a national title sooner or later. Probably sooner !

  • WhatsUpKnight

    good point, but i think i’ll continue to condemn pUKe. ;)

  • skotchie

    This was also in the Forum along with an interesting tid-bit about Okonohboh. Caution to everyone here don’t get married to the idea of getting either. But you can hope and dream.

  • IUMIKE1

    Count me in on that continuation as well. See no reason to stop. Comparing us recruiting Exum and what pUKe does is the apples to oranges thing IMHO.

  • GN

    Two s’s in dessert, I believe. Otherwise it’s a hot, dry, sandy place.

  • scottybower

    Awe man what’s happening with Goodluck? Everything thus far has seemed like we’re in a great position to land him….

  • Mooks

    Duke is pulling hard on him, and they need Centers bad, whereas he has to fight for a position with Hanner and Luke.

  • PV Mike

    SMU = Southern Millionaires University. Larry Brown plus rich Texas kids!
    BTW, I read a very recent interview with Dante in an Australian newspaper where is stated not long ago he was 90% sure he was going to college for at least a year now just 50/50.

  • PV Mike

    Sorry, did not see this and just posted the same above here.

  • scottybower

    Hopefully a potential Jahlil Okafor commit to Duke will be the final push our way… He’s the 2014 recruit I was hoping to see in Candy Stripes the most (besides Exum of course).

  • N71

    Also, consider the situation he’d be entering. Say he goes #3 overall to Cleveland perhaps. The money and playing basketball for a living, I get that, but look a little deeper and consider the amount of pressure that will be placed on you at 18 years old being that franchises #3 pick. You better be ready for that, it breaks a bunch of really good players. Even Kobi had a rough go of it early.

  • Yoohoo

    If he comes then he is locked in for 1 full year. So its doubtfull he does that.

  • BluegrassHoosier

    I agree with you. That’s the logical conclusion. Exum plays one semester somewhere and then goes pro or he skips college altogether. No top 5 pick will attend college when the NBA millions await. We are dreaming if we think he plays for us a full year.

  • Ole Man

    Not true, kimosabi….there was talk at one time of Exum joining IU to play the half season, and then leaving.
    Obviously, that won’t happen now since that scholarship is gone.
    But, yes, they are allowed to do that.

  • Ole Man

    The soldier went to the desert looking for dessert, but then decided to desert.

  • marcusgresham

    Can’t remember the kid’s name but Tennessee had a kid come in in December and put on a show. I don’t think he went pro, though.

  • ThaSnowman

    I really really want this kid. Best player since EG for sure, and from a lot of what I’ve read he is probably better. Fouled 18 times??? WoW! Come on Dante, be part of IU history and win another banner. You will become eternal. Hoosier Nation is vast, and basketball is KING here. Bringing another banner to IU would probably make you more well known in the long run than anything you will do in the NBA unless you are a superstar. Not an allstar… a SUPERSTAR. Just sayin. :)

  • BC

    I don’t have a problem with a one and done. I have a problem with 6-7 of them. How can you root for a team like that. They’re practically mercenaries. Personally I think they should get rid of one and done rule. Let them go pro or go to college. If they go to college they honor a three year commitment. If they want to go pro at 17-18 let them. The odds are they will fail and all that money will disappear. But who wouldn’t take that at 18.

  • Daniel Coffman

    He’s still at Tennessee. Jarnell Stokes. I think he graduated HS a semester early but it cost a full year of eligibility.

  • HoosierTrav

    Its different when that’s the only type of kid you recruit. We graduate multiple players. I’d prefer we keep recruiting kids from the DMV(Most fertile in the US) as well as Indiana. Thats the recipe for national championships. We need to be able to nab Indiana’s 5 Stars.

  • HoosierTrav

    He gone!

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