Okay, Utah Jazz fans are pretty excited about Dante Exum, the #5 pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Sure, the sample sizes we have right now are pretty small compared to American players who are under the microscope much sooner; but there is a lot to like. As a biologist, I guess, by trade I am interested to see how much of his ability is nurture, and how much is nature. As a result we have to go back to the source, his father Cecil Exum, the University of North Carolina product who was pick #194th in the 1984 NBA Draft.
Cecil, yes, played on the same teams as Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty, James Worthy, and was coached by Dean Smith. He wasn't an actual NBA player though, which sucks. What doesn't suck is that the internet exists, and we can research things. Exum Sr. played for a number of years internationally. I tracked down the teams he played for and got their stats. (Heck, you have no idea what it's like running Google Translate on Australian!)
So, here are his numbers:
At North Carolina he played four years, and wasn't exactly their main weapon. There is no data for how many minutes he played, or blocks. Nor do we have any record of turn overs for his first season.
Yes, he was on some good teams, great even. But he wasn't a big part of them. As a small forward he didn't pass much, but he did some work on the glass. In his senior year he was still an afterthought on offense. He did start to finally make those free throws though!
After college he was drafted in that '84 draft. But in the 9th round to the Denver Nuggets. He didn't make the team, but eventually made it over to Australia. (I am imagining by lying flat on some drift wood or something like we see in biology textbooks that talk about previous theories of how animals migrated to Australia). There he bounced around a bit too, but found a home in Greelong.
I'm just going to assume the Greelong Supercats are like the Seattle Supersonics. So he was basically the Detlef Schrempf of those teams. Shut up.
He had some amazing years with Greelong after his first few seasons playing amongst the teams from Melbourne. I wish I had footage of those times, because they would be fun to see. His son Dante Exum appears to have much better court vision, though.
To need the genes to really excel, and Dante has that. And you need the drive, which comes from nurture, I guess. His dad was super competitive and we see that in Dante as well. And like most second generation players, he appears to be benefitting from both the nature and nuture here.
So, thanks Cecil for helping make our future star player! I will buy you a drink or something if our paths ever cross.