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Dante Exum declares for NBA Draft

Dante Exum discusses his move to sign with Landmark Sports Agency whose clients include Kobe Bryant and Andre Drummond.

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Sydney Kings coach Shane Heal said NBA hopeful Dante Exum has made the right move by declaring his eligibility for the NBA Draft.

Exum spurned the chance to play college basketball, instead all but assuring a multi-million dollar payday and the chance to play against the best players in the world.

Heal, one of the first Australians to play in the NBA after joining the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996, said it had been only a matter of time before Exum - who he labelled an ''exceptional talent'' - put his hand up for the draft.

Dante Exum is in big demand in the US, on the college scene and in the NBA.

On his way: Dante Exum. Photo: Eddie Jim

"It was always going to happen, and it’s a smart move. I think he will be a top-five draft pick without a doubt," Heal said. "It’s obviously a big step up to go to the NBA, but over time he will be another one flying the flag.

''When I joined the NBA there was only one other Aussie there, but now there will be five, along with Andrew [Bogut], Matt [Dellavedova], Patty [Mills] and [Aron] Baynes. It’s a proud moment for Australia, and it will be another example to show the juniors in Australia that [making it in the NBA] can be done. " 

Exum has already represented the Australian Boomers, despite not appearing in the NBL or playing college basketball, coming off the bench against New Zealand last year in the Oceania world championship qualifying series. 

The 18-year-old Victorian announced on Wednesday morning he had signed with agents Rob Pelinka and Brandon Rosenthal of Landmark Sports Agency, a company who also represent Kobe Bryant.

Exum, the son of former NBL import Cecil Exum, is widely tipped to be top-five pick in this year's draft which is considered one of the strongest fields in many years with several NBA sides trading away talented players to make sure they get a high pick for the draft which is scheduled for June 26 [US time].

If he is selected in the top five, Exum can expect a $US5 million ($5.66 million) rookie contract.

Exum burst on to the scene at last year's under-19 world championships, leading the Australian team in scoring with 18.2 points a game.

He caught the eye with his quickness and ability to get to the rim, while his 2.02m wingspan gives him an advantage on the defensive end.

A couple of cameos off the bench for the Boomers in the Oceania world championship qualifying series with New Zealand gave Exum the chance to play alongside current NBA players Patty Mills and Aron Baynes, who are both at the San Antonio Spurs.The Exum family announced their decision to ESPN in a statement.

“We are excited to be working with Landmark Sports," Exum and his parents, Cecil and Desiree, wrote to ESPN.

"Our family felt The Landmark Team represented our style and manner of treating people, and in doing businesses. We also all shared a common commitment to achieving excellence in all things. “The fit is just great and we are really pleased to now begin the work."

“We are thrilled and honored to be working with Dante and his family," Pelinka said in a statement to ESPN.

“As the NBA continues to expand its brand around the world, we feel like Dante's international story comes at a perfect time.

“We also believe that, with continued hard work and focus, Dante is destined to be a 'franchise' point guard in this next generation of great NBA players."

Exum is currently based in Australia but is expected to head to America in the months leading up to the draft to undergo specific pre-draft training and workout for prospective teams.

After training and playing with the Australian national team last year, Exum said that experience had helped him learn more about how he would go at NBA level.

"It's definitely a great learning experience playing with and against them," Exum said, referring to Boomers' teammates and NBA guards Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova.

"Stepping up against men day-in and day-out is a challenge. I mean, all these guys are pros.

"One day that is where I want to get to. This has been great for learning and seeing them every day and how they are treating their bodies. It's a confidence boost to know I can hold my own against them."