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Canberra teen Dante Exum ready to light up NBA, says Luc Longley

He has signed with Kobe Bryant's agent and is one of a select few since LeBron James to nominate for the NBA draft straight out of high school.

But Australia basketball legend Luc Longley has backed teenage wunderkind Dante Exum to take his whirlwind rise from Canberra schoolboy to NBA millionaire in his stride.

Exum said on Wednesday he would bypass the US college system and nominate for the NBA draft, where he is widely tipped to be a top-10 pick. That would guarantee the 18-year-old point guard anywhere between $1.8million and $5.2million.

It's a stratospheric rise to stardom after he guided Canberra's Lake Ginninderra College side, the Lakers, to the national title just two months ago. Now he's attracting interest from the Los Angeles Lakers as one of the game's hottest young prospects.

Longley rated his own four years at US college an ideal grounding before winning three NBA championships with Chicago alongside Michael Jordan.

But the Australian Boomers assistant coach has no doubt Exum has the skills and character to make an immediate impact in the world's best league.


''The difference between Dante and I at that age is he's very, very good,'' Longley said.

''In college I developed my game and confidence, but I couldn't have come out of high school into the NBA; I wasn't as talented and my game wasn't as polished as Dante's.

''I think it's great he's done it and if there's a young man I know in Australia who can handle the pressures of playing with men in a man's league, it's Dante.''

Longley has fielded calls from a host of NBA clubs keen to learn more about the Melbourne product, including the Lakers.

Exum will be represented by Rob Pelinka, of Landmark Sports Agency, his stable of clients including NBA stars Bryant, James Harden and Andre Iguodala.

''I got a call from the Lakers asking about him and they may end up with a good pick,'' Longley said.

''I've had a few calls from other NBA teams mostly asking about him, they see the skill package but these days they're all concerned about character.

''That will help push Dante further up the draft, because he's the type of person they'd want to have in an organisation.''

Longley has offered Exum advice on adapting to the NBA spotlight and handling the intense scrutiny afforded to high draft picks.

''I was around him all summer with the Boomers and he showed more poise than I expected, his decision-making is very good,'' he said.

Exum, who is training in Canberra at the AIS, will head to Los Angeles on February 7.

He recently visited a number of US colleges and sought the counsel of several Boomers teammates before opting to elect for the draft.

''The main reason to go the draft was to get developed by a team that's willing to invest in me,'' Exum said.

''Some of the best coaches and trainers are in the NBA. I thought it was the best way to just focus totally on basketball.

''I've had Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Andrew Bogut all talk to me and help me through the process.

''It still hasn't really sunk in, it probably won't feel real until I'm actually on a team.''

Exum, whose father Cecil was a former teammate of Michael Jordan in the early 1980s, is set to become the fifth Australian in the NBA, and has been inspired by the strong impacts countrymen Matthew Dellavedova and Aron Baynes have made in their rookie seasons with Cleveland and San Antonio respectively.

He is focused on adding more bulk to his lanky 198cm frame, while maintaining the speed which is the hallmark of his game.

''Obviously I need to get bigger in the gym, but not too big so I don't lose any of that quickness.''