Dante Exum says he would've been a Hoosier if he played in college

Judging by his predicted draft position, Dante Exum made the right choice by bypassing college. (Getty Images)

This is a little punch to the chest for Indiana fans.

Had Dante Exum -- who is looking more and more likely to be taken in the top three of Thursday's draft -- opted to go to college, Indiana was most likely going to be his choice.

What could have been, right? If Indiana sludges through more rough moors of travel next season, Hoosiers fans will be comforted and scourged at the thought their team could be a bit better had Exum opted at least one year of undergrad services.

How do we know Exum was eying Bloomington? A friend of ours, former CBSSports.com blogger Jeff Goodman, has a nice, swift profile of the Australian-born, 6-foot-6 point guard. There's a lot of mystery behind Exum; some think his lack of play over the past year has oddly and only helped his stock.

The key part for Hoosiers fans.

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. [Exum's father] 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.

Not sure how much of a dream it was for him to play college hoops when, in fact, he's diverted from doing that very thing altogether. It would've been a treat to see him give it a try, though.

Given Exum's physicality and ability, he would've provided the Hoosiers with something unusual. A tall point guard with good verticality and a knack for playing/finishing at the rim.

The Hoosiers went 17-15 last season and missed the NCAA Tournament. They lost freshman Noah Vonleh to the NBA (he's projected just ahead of Exum -- fifth or six overall by most) but return Yogi Ferrell at point and bring in five-star shooting guard James Blackmon, Jr.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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