If you feel like we’ve started talking a lot about Dante Exum as of late here on KSR, it’s with good reason. The kid is taking off in the world of basketball. Exum will finish school in Australia in November, and then he will likely enroll somewhere for college to play during the second semester of this upcoming season. As of now, that is Exum’s plan. Kentucky could join the mix for Exum’s services, especially if Kyle Wiltjer’s scholarship becomes available. Exum said recently that Indiana, Michigan, Louisville, LSU, SMU, Tulsa and Kentucky are recruiting him the hardest. Here are 3 reasons why Kentucky might want Dante Exum:
1. His star is on the rise
The original thought was that a guy like Dante Exum could come in and provide some depth to a team already set up to contend for a national championship. Exum might have other ideas though. After a string of recent strong performances in the Hoops Summit and in the U-19 FIBA World Championships, Exum’s star is clearly on the rise. When a mock 2014 NBA Draft came out yesterday that put Exum as the 3rd best prospect in a LOADED 2014 draft class, some heads started to turn. In fact, Exum might be the hottest name in the recruiting world right now as he gears up to make a decision toward the end of the summer about which school he will attend during the second semester.
Even though Exum would be joining a roster a little later in the season, likely having to play catch up wherever he goes– he might not be “backing up” anyone for very long. Exum could likely share point guard duties with Andrew Harrison, but could also play off the ball in an Eric Bledsoe-like role. Will a guy who is potentially good enough to get most or all of the minutes somewhere be willing to join a back-court that already includes Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and James Young? If so, allow yourself to revel in the possibility of 3 lottery picks running the guard positions for Kentucky next year. Yikes.
2. He could be the shooter we need AND he’s a good defender
Dante Exum is not Jodie Meeks. Let’s make that clear up front. But if Kyle Wiltjer is not a part of this Kentucky team for next year, the threat of an outside shooter must be filled with a host of good, but not great shooters (think 2010 Kentucky team). Exum might already be a slightly better shooter than the guys Kentucky has to try to fill that role. Exum will finish on enough 3 pointers that teams will have to extend out to try to take it away. When that happens, Exum is also an excellent finisher at the basket. He will either put it away, or get fouled.
As if Exum’s offensive abilities weren’t enough to make you swoon, Exum is a good defender AND wants to be a big-time defensive stopper in college. With a 6-5 frame for a guard, Exum can put a lot of pressure on undersized guards, creating turnovers and deflections. The Harrison twins and James Young all have good size for guards as well. If you add Exum to the mix, this Kentucky could become a nightmare for opposing teams if they decide to press.
3. So Louisville or Indiana doesn’t get him…
Sometimes when you see a player decide to attend college elsewhere, you literally never see them again (Anthony Bennett to UNLV or Shabazz Muhammad to UCLA). The situation becomes somewhat of an “out of sight, out of mind” type of thing. Dante Exum is very high on Indiana right now, and Louisville is not too far behind. Many believe that those 2 schools are essentially the frontrunners, at least until Kentucky officially jumps in the mix with both feet– which may or may not happen depending on Wiltjer. If Exum decides to go to Louisville or Indiana, due to his late enrollment and the fact that we don’t play IU, we might not see him directly–but rest assured we will hear about him. Louisville is already a contender heading into next season with quite a few returning pieces from last year’s national championship run. Adding a terrific combo guard like Exum would only help the Cards close the gap with the Wildcats talent-wise. I wouldn’t consider Indiana a contender next season (It’s hard when you lose a
top 5 draft pick Michael Jordan mistake like Cody Zeller), but the Hoosiers adding Exum would just make them more annoying than they already are. And Exum would live the rest of his life thinking that a Sweet 16 was the equivalent of a national championship. And we can’t have that.
And if all of those reasons weren’t enough…try watching this: