It has been a while since our last official sighting of Dante Exum. The rookie guard returned home to Melbourne after the regular season ended, and made an appearance yesterday in Basketball Australia's announcement of the FIBA Oceania Championship games, along with Opal Liz Cambage.
When interviewed by Eddie "Everywhere" McGuire, Exum was positive on the upcoming Oceania Championship series, of which the first game would be hosted in Rod Laver Arena on 15 August 2015. He also discussed the Boomers' commitment to the Olympics, and expressed his confidence in the potential of Australian basketball.
I always say [to others in the Jazz], we just never got the opportunity to be looked at, because we're so far away from the States. But [the United States] are definitely starting to look this way.
After the media announcement and photoshoot were concluded, Exum availed himself to the media for a quick Q&A, and we took the opportunity to check in on the affable rookie's offseason plans.
Exum's first offseason, and Boomers thoughts
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter spending so much time overseas in the United States, it's no surprise that Exum is pleased to be back home among friends and family, and to "just to have a bit of a break and get back to how it was before, before it gets crazy again".
One can surely empathise with how his world exploded ever since the that fateful draft night. The grind of a full NBA season coupled with the constant media attention must surely be taxing, to say the least.
When asked about his thoughts on improving specific parts of his game, Exum expressed a firm desire in not wasting the time and opportunity to get better all around.
"Going into the first offseason we'll work on a lot of things, mainly everything. But the focus is going to be on having a pullup game. And [also] just getting back to finishes, ball-handling, everything."
Exum's plans to work on his pullup game is surely a good sign for the season ahead. Exum has been used as a spot up shooter for most of his rookie season. Adding this shot to his arsenal will undoubtedly expand his game and make him a deadlier offensive threat.
While it might be too early for Exum to assume the reins of leadership from Gordon Hayward, being more of a ball-handler is definitely something that can and will happen.
"I've talked to Gordon about [ball-handling duties], and he wants me to take that next step in having a bigger role on the team. So I look forward to next season, and try to take on that role."
When asked about his expectations for the upcoming Oceania Championship game, Exum had this to say.
"Oh, just to get back to... winning. (smiles) We've got a team, so we need to come together as a team, know what the goal is, and work together."
Finally: is the game a good opportunity to build cohesion with the other Boomers on their journey to Rio? Indubitably. Dante likened it to their earlier trip to the FIBA World Cup in Spain, and remembered the great relationships the team built back then.
The August game definitely serves as a good opportunity for the Boomers to build chemistry. For all of us out there, it is nothing short of a rare chance to catch our Aussies in the NBA live in Australia, playing together - something that should definitely not be missed.
Once again, our thanks to Jane Aubrey from Basketball Australia for making this possible, and also to Dante Exum for sharing his thoughts with all of us.