He hasn't played in his first NBA game yet, but 18-year-old guard Dante Exum already has a shoe deal in his back pocket.
According to The Oregonian's Allan Brettman, the Australian draft prospect will partner with Adidas as he enters the NBA and carves out a brand for himself.
Brettman provided a bit of background info, some of which links Exum to the company, however loosely:
[Exum] participated in the Adidas Nations program in 2011 and 2012, leading Australia to a fourth place finish in 2012. Exum grew up with strong basketball roots, his father Cecil Exum was a member of the 1982 University of North Carolina NCAA National Championship team before playing professional basketball in Australia.
Exum sounded pleased with the deal, according to Adidas' press release: "I’m really excited to join the Adidas family. I’ve had the opportunity to play in Adidas Nations in the past and I’ve always liked their shoes and gear. I look forward to what’s to come for me and Adidas."
That sounds like the kind of pedigree that will fit Adidas just fine. The company recently re-signed point guard Damian Lillard to a big endorsement deal, so it's proving to have its finger on the pulse of the league's best young talent.
NBC Sports' Kurt Helin examines the move from Adidas' perspective:
Adidas is betting on him working out...The book on Exum is that he can create shots and has great athleticism, there’s a lot of potential, but his jump shot needs considerable work. He’s a bit of a project. If that project pans out, adidas will have made a smart gamble. Either way it might have been smart to be in on the ground floor.
Exum will look to follow in Lillard's footsteps in more ways than one. Beyond the corporate symmetry, he could learn a lot from Lillard's game.
The 6'6" combo guard is primed to become one of the top picks in this summer's draft, perhaps a top-five talent by some estimates. After the success of the similarly lengthy Michael Carter-Williams this season, Exum's stock may grow even more.