He’s already been declared a future NBA All-Star, now Australian basketball prodigy Dante Exum has been likened to the greatest player of all time – Michael Jordan.
The Melbourne-born 18-year-old is tipped to be a top-five pick in June’s NBA draft, after choosing to skip the American college system and go straight to the professional big-time.
Former college basketball coach and respected analyst Fran Fraschilla has kept a close eye on Exum since seeing him at last April’s Nike Hoop Summit in Portland – an exhibition for top local and international NBA prospects.
He also witnessed his “brilliance” in Prague last July when he played for Australia at the under-19s world championships.
“He reminds me of a young, 1982-circa North Carolina Michael Jordan,” Fraschilla told American radio program ESPN LA.
“He’s not going to be as great, obviously – unless I’m wrong – but he kind of reminds you of a young colt that’s just about to run his first claimer race, and you’re looking at him going ‘this guy could win the Kentucky Derby some day’.”
Jordan began his college career at North Carolina in 1981 on a basketball scholarship.
He spent three seasons there before leaving a year before his scheduled graduation to enter the 1984 NBA draft, where the Chicago Bulls selected him with the third overall pick.
Coincidentally, Exum’s father, Cecil, was on Jordan’s team at North Carolina in the early 1980s before moving to Australia to play with NBL clubs the North Melbourne Giants, Melbourne Tigers and the Geelong Supercats.
The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in selecting the 198cm tall combination guard.
A fan of the Lakers and their star Kobe Bryant, Exum had the choice of some of America’s top sports agents but went with Bryant’s LA-based Rob Pelinka.
“Here’s the one caveat: someone’s going to draft him in the top five, potentially as high as one, two or three, and he’s not turning 19 until July,” Fraschilla said.
“So we’re talking about a baby here. We’re talking about a guy that’s going to get run or shot over – at least initially.
“But the long-term potential, to me, is as great as anybody in this draft, including all the guys that we’ve hyped the last two years.”
The NBA draft is on June 26.