Dante Exum says he would have attended Indiana

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In a few days Dante Exum will be drafted by an NBA franchise. That decision is out of his control, though, he will likely hear his name called within the first five — potentially first three — selections.

Up until late January, Exum had the option of deciding where he would spend next season. On January 28, he signed with an agent, abruptly ending any possibility of him committing to play college basketball for the 2014-2015 season.

Late last summer, Exum was still torn between declaring for the draft or enrolling in college. He eventually listed a handful of finalists — Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and Oregon — and even intended on taking visits to each of those schools.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN wrote a profile on Exum earlier this week. In that piece, the 6-foot-6 guard reveals he would have committed to Indiana had he gone to college.

Exum finished his high school career in Australia, graduating in December while weighing his options: to realize his dream of playing college basketball or to go directly to the NBA. He trimmed his list to five schools: Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan and Oregon. Cecil says that Kentucky’s John Calipari even threw out the possibility of Dante joining Kentucky for the second semester of the season and jumping right into the fire.

“He would have been at a major disadvantage,” Cecil said. “Behind the eight-ball. I shot that down and told the other schools that was not an option.”

Dante maintains that he would have chosen to play for Tom Crean at Indiana, the lone school he actually visited, if he had opted to go the college route.

Indiana finished 17-15 (7-11 Big Ten) in 2013-2014 after losing four starters from the previous season. Noah Vonleh ended up joining Exum in the 2014 NBA Draft class, and several rotation players have since transferred out of the program. Returning point guard Yogi Ferrell won’t play alongside Exum next season, but he will be joined in the Hoosiers’ back court by top-50 incoming freshmen James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson.

The Philadelphia 76ers are projected to take Exum with the third overall pick on Thursday night, according to DraftExpress.com.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Denzel Valentine, the nation’s best player?

Denzel Valentine
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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(This will be updated throughout the day.)

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67

The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?


Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: 32 points, nine boards, six assists

No. 3 Michigan State beat Boise State 77-67 in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy out in California, but the result of that game is less important than the result of Valentine’s night. A night after notching his second triple-double of the season, Valentine took over another way on Friday, hitting five straight threes in the span of about five minutes to put the Spartans up double-figures in a game they were struggling to take control of.

In three games against high-major competition, Valentine is now averaging 30.0 points, 10.7 boards and 9.3 assists. He has been, unequivocally, the best player in college basketball this season.

No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.

Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: Not only did the Shockers drop their second straight at the AdvoCare Invitational, but they also saw Anton Grady leave the game on a stretcher after being involved in a scary second-half collision. He was awake and alert shortly after leaving the court. While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.


Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.


Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.

Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.


  • Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
  • Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
  • No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.


  • Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.

Good luck Goodluck: UNLV’s Okonoboh to transfer

Goodluck Okonoboh
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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UNLV sophomore Goodluck Okonoboh is transferring out of the program, a source told NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-10 center was the No. 31 recruit in the Class of 2014, but he never was able to find a place in the UNLV rotation. He averaged 2.9 blocks as a freshman, but is a career 34 percent free throw shooter that never proved he could be more than just an athlete.

With Ben Carter getting eligible and UNLV landing Stephen Zimmerman this season, Okonoboh’s minutes dried up. He played just 19 minutes total against UCLA and Indiana.