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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz's Dante Exum and Rodney Hood during a press conference at the Zions Bank Basketball Center Friday June 27, 2014.
Gordon Monson: Dante Exum and Rodney Hood — Who are these guys?

First Published Jun 27 2014 07:27 pm • Last Updated Jun 27 2014 11:33 pm

The Who should have burst onto the platform and performed at the Jazz’s practice facility on Friday, providing theme music for a meet-and-greet that could have been wrapped up by their iconic song chorus: "Whooooooooo are you? Who, Who, Who, Who?"

Nobody knew.

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Nobody had a clue, really.

The occasion had nothing to do with the actual meaning behind Pete Townshend’s famous lyrics. No one woke up drunk in a Soho doorway. No policeman knew anybody’s name.

But there definitely were acquaintances to make and information to glean, both professional and personal.

Dante Exum, who are you? Who, who, who, who?

Rodney Hood, who are you? Who, who, who, who?

Those were the questions everybody on hand asked, in one form or another, at the introductory news conference for the Jazz’s draft picks. There was one other question, too, tromping around in everybody’s brain. The answer to that one would have to wait: Can either of these guys really play NBA ball?

Exum, in particular, was the focus of an identity search.

Probably because he’s 18 years old. We all have gym shoes older than him. We have T-shirts older than him. I, personally, own an unused stick of deodorant — Old Spice — older than him. Besides, all 18-year-olds are riddles and mysteries, right?


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And because he’s been stashed away in Australia for his entire life. The only thing anybody around here knew about Australian Rules basketball is that Andrew Bogut played it and was a product of it.

Nobody sending up probing questions at the presser had ever seen Exum play in a live setting. None had watched him live on television. Most had seen highlights, most had read up on the 6-foot-6 point guard, most had heard the wide-ranging exclamations about him and his game: He’s athletic. He can get to the basket. He’s creative with the ball. He can pass it. He can handle it. He’s willing to share it. He can score it.

But who is Exum? Who, who, who, who?

On Friday, his poise exceeded the life experiences etched on his young face. He said all the right things, and he seemed to mean them.

He said he was pleased to be with the Jazz, eager to get to work and to learn and to win. He said he couldn’t really be compared to any other player: "I like to use my quickness and my speed — on defense and getting into transition."

Asked point-blank who he is, he answered: "I’m Dante Exum. I’m just a kid from Melbourne, Australia, here to play basketball."

He added: "I’m a chill, down-to-earth guy."

He also said he’ll use the mystery surrounding his name and game to push him forward: "It motivates me. I know I can play."

He said there are misperceptions about Australia, foremost among them: "We don’t put shrimp on the barbie."

And he used expressions that no NBA player not from Australia has ever said, such as: "I was having a laugh."

Exum’s mom, Desiree, was on hand to describe her son further: "He’s a wonderful person. He’s a very focused, determined, committed individual. He sets goals and he achieves them. He knows what he wants and he goes for it. He’s only 18, but he’s a thinker. He doesn’t act without thinking it out. He never got in any major trouble. He’s driven and he works hard. That’s him. He’s my son. I don’t want him to change. When we flew in to Salt Lake City, it just felt right here."

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