Dante Exum's Lake Ginninderra College teammates insist their mate is 'just like one of us'
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Dante Exum's Lake Ginninderra College teammates insist their mate is 'just like one of us'

Dante Exum may be starring in shoe commercials and raking in millions in the NBA, but his former Lake Ginninderra College teammates view him as an ordinary teenager.

Jack McVeigh, Rob Colton, Mitch Brown and Billy Muir felt like a backing band for a rock star when huge crowds packed in to watch Exum lead them to the national schools title in Melbourne last year.

UC Senior Secondary College students who played on the same basketball team as Dante Exum. From left: Robert Colton, Jack McVeigh, Billy Muir, Mitch Brown.

UC Senior Secondary College students who played on the same basketball team as Dante Exum. From left: Robert Colton, Jack McVeigh, Billy Muir, Mitch Brown. Credit:Jamila Toderas

They had the best seats in the house as Exum, taken at No. 5 by Utah Jazz in Friday's NBA Draft, was inundated by autograph seekers and his every move filmed by a leading US sports web site Bleacher Report.

Exum will earn more than $4 million is his rookie season, but his classmates insist he's an average kid with a love of X-box and a practical joke.

"It's the weirdest thing; he just came out with some Foot Locker ads and we were laughing at him, this isn't the Dante we know,'' Australian under-19 squad member McVeigh said.

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"[At the school titles] he was honestly just one of the boys, we treated him no differently and he treated us no differently, and that's why we respect him so much.

"They [Bleacher Report] were following him around for three or four days, it was unbelievable.

"Besides the media following him, there'd be lines of people talking to him and wanting his autograph. He'd push it aside, be nice to them all and then be one of the boys, just one of us.

"At the semi-final they had to pull out extra stands for the game. That was a surreal moment, when we realised this is big.''

He joins Lauren Jackson, Shane Heal, Patrick Mills and Andrew Bogut as former Lake Ginninderra students to hit the big time in the US.

Brown, son of Basketball ACT high performance director and former Australian Opals assistant coach Phil, said an outsider would be none the wiser who the NBA star in their team was if they stepped into the dressing room.

"If you had to pick on basketball talent you would straight away. But he's not cocky or up himself at all, he's really down to earth and a genuine guy,'' Brown said.

"On the court he wasn't selfish and try and do everything himself.

"It was pretty crazy to see a mate in the draft, it's a one in a million chance.''

Colton said it sunk in after the draft the enormity of playing alongside Australian basketball's 'next big thing'.

"We soaked it up and all the hype rubbed off on us a little bit, he is such a great player and at the time we probably didn't necessarily appreciate it,'' he said.

"Afterward you look back and think 'that was special'.''

Muir juggles basketball with AFL, and is part of the NSW/ACT Rams under-18 squad and plays at NEAFL level for Ainslie.

He's yet to make a decision on which sport to choose, but said the exploits of Mills and Exum is food for thought.

"Seeing guys like Patty and a few others in the NBA, it encourages me to play basketball more,'' he said.

"I haven't made my choice yet, I'm enjoying both at the moment."

Colton and Muir ran around screaming and high-fiving in celebration as their friend's life changed forever when his named was read out by NBA boss Adam Silver.

"One person at the school champs came up and asked for a photo and after I said 'sure', he handed me the camera to take one of him with Dante,'' Muir said. "Seeing him on ESPN and running around the house, it's pretty amazing really.''