Aussie Dante Exum to sign $4.87 million NBA contract with Utah Jazz

Australian Dante Exum is now in the NBA after being selected at pick number five by Utah Jazz.


Dante Exum (R) after the Utah Jazz took him as the fifth pick of the 2014 NBA draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, USA, 26 June 2014. (AAP)

Australian teenager Dante Exum has achieved a lifelong dream of being drafted to the NBA by the Utah Jazz.

The Australian will sign a two-year contract with the Jazz worth about $A4.87 million ($US4.5 million) each year.

When Exum was born, his father, US-born former NBL forward Cecil Exum, took a basketball to the Melbourne hospital and placed it in his son's tiny hands.

On Thursday, the 198cm tall point guard, dubbed "The Boy Wonder from Down Under" and "International Man of Mystery" by US media, was selected by the Jazz with the fifth pick.

Exum admitted to nerves ahead of the announcement. 

The 18-year-old was considered a wildcard in the draft held in Brooklyn, New York, because he didn't play US college basketball and most NBA executives, coaches and scouts had never seen him play a game in person.

"I'm just a kid from Melbourne, Australia," said Exum later, dressed in a grey suit and with a Jazz cap on his head.

"I guess right now I just got drafted so I guess I'm not a mystery anymore."

News of Exum's selection was well-received by the US and Australian basketball communities.

Exum was expected to go to the 76ers with the third pick, or possibly No.1 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but slid down to the Jazz.

The 76ers are mentored by former Australian Olympic coach Brett Brown, but the team went for University of Kansas centre Joel Embiid.

The Orlando Magic also passed on Exum with the fourth pick.

The Cleveland Cavaliers used their No.1 selection on another Kansas player, forward Andrew Wiggins, while the Milwaukee Bucks took Duke forward Jabari Parker second.

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

Like most kids from Melbourne, Exum played Australian rules growing up, but he says his dad steered him to basketball.

Despite having the height and freakish speed and jumping ability, Exum jokes that he wouldn't have made it to the AFL anyway because he was not able to kick the ball.

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

Australia will likely have a sixth NBA player later on Friday (AEST), with University of New Mexico power forward Cameron Bairstow expected to be selected in the second round.

Fans who have been following Dante Exum's career progression have created video tributes.

3 min read
Published 27 June 2014 at 10:18am
Source: World News Australia, AAP, SBS