Dante Exum

While all the attention was on the return of former Lakers center Dwight Howard to STAPLES Center during Wednesday night’s matchup with the Rockets, another non-Lakers player also made headlines.

One of the top NBA prospects this year, Australian point guard Dante Exum, spent some time in the stands at STAPLES Center during Wednesday’s game after arriving in Los Angeles just a few days ago.

Exum, a combo-guard with a similar physique to Kobe Bryant‘s high school days, has already made it clear that he wants to play for one team–the Los Angeles Lakers. His interest was confirmed recently in an interview with Bleacher Report, stating that Exum wants to play for the Lakers.

Rumors continued to swirl after Exum signed with Kobe Bryant’s agent, Rob Pelinka, in January.

While Exum wants to play for the Lakers, uncertainty remains as to whether the Lakers feel the same way about him, especially with a strong 2014 NBA Draft class expected.

With the Lakers destined for a lottery draft pick this season, the 2014 NBA Draft is also expected to include the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari ParkerMarcus Smart and Joel Embiid.

While there is sure to be plenty of discussion as to who the Lakers will select in June’s NBA draft, there is one prospect who is already envisioning himself in the purple and gold next season.

Australian point guard phenom Dante Exum in a recent interview to Bleacher Report, expressed his interest in joining the Lakers next season:

“Definitely L.A. is one option,” Exum told Bleacher Report. “I’ve been to L.A. many times and I love the city, and it is a great city. If I get the opportunity to go to L.A. and play for the Lakers, I know I’ll have love for the city. And their fans are loyal and they have the rivalry with the Clippers. But just to be in an environment where you have a great player like Kobe, where you have a mentor in a way as a rookie, I think that would be the best option.”

It should be noted that the 18-year-old Exum recently choose Rob Pelinka as his agent. Pelinka represents Kobe Bryant and that was one of the driving reasons behind choosing him as an agent.

“I just want to know his work ethic, what he’s done to be where he is at the moment, because he’s definitely in the talk of one of the greatest of all-time,” Exum said of Bryant. “So I want to just pick his brain, what he’s done, how he’s adapted over the years and still been able to average over 20 points in the league.”

An interesting aspect to keep an eye on is how Exum and Pelinka handle the draft process. As Jabari Davis of Basketball Insiders notes, it could be a similar situation that Kobe Bryant went through during his draft process when his representatives told teams they would regret drafting him. Exum could be in position to gain leverage in who he goes to by threatening to sign with teams overseas and not play for the team he is drafted for a few years.

At 6’6″, Exum’s size and athleticism has scouts raving about his potential. At his young age, it could be 2-3 years until Exum makes an impact in the NBA but with a potential mentor in Kobe for the next two years, it could be the perfect situation for him.

Below is the preseason scouting video for Exum from Draft Express:

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