Ex-Tar Heel's son certain to go early in Thursday's NBA draft
Posted June 24
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Depending upon which NBA mock draft you favor, there’s virtually no reason to think anyone other than Duke’s Jabari Parker or Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins will be go 1-2 on Thursday night in Brooklyn.
When Wiggins’ former Jayhawk teammate Joel Embiid underwent foot surgery Friday, Parker and Wiggins’ stock surged.
Wiggins, as almost everyone in North Carolina knows, is the son of former Clemson/Florida State standout Mitchell Wiggins, a Kinston native who played high school ball at North Lenoir.
Now to the next North Carolina draft connection.
If for some reason Parker and/or Wiggins don’t go 1-2 Thursday, a kid out of Australia might. Wing guard Dante Exum, a 6-6 sharpshooter from Canberra, is generally projected to be selected either third or fourth, depending upon the various teams’ reaction to Embiid’s surgery.
Exum is the son of former UNC player Cecil Exum, a member of the 1982 NCAA championship team. Cecil Exum is from Dudley and played prep ball at Southern Wayne.
Small world, huh?
Andrew Wiggins is a native of Canada, the result of Mitchell’s relocation to the Toronto area after his playing career in the NBA and various minor leagues.
Cecil Exum followed much the same path. Although he wasn’t a standout for the Tar Heels, he was picked in the 1984 NBA Draft. In those days, the draft included up to 11 rounds. Exum went in the 9th round to Denver but never played in the NBA.
Instead, he wound up in the Aussie pro league and enjoyed a long, successful career. He then became a naturalized Australian citizen. Dante was born June 13, 1995, and has the chance at the long NBA career that eluded his dad.
Counting N.C. State’s T.J. Warren, there will be three sons of former ACC and in-state high schoolers in the Thursday mix. T.J.’s father, Tony, also played for the Wolfpack after a standout prep career at Raleigh's Enloe High.
Former UNC star P.J. Hairston also is likely to be a first-rounder. A Greensboro native, Hairston played prep ball at Greensboro Dudley before going on to Hargrave (Va.) Military School for one season.
Finally, Dante Exum could be rarity in this NBA draft in that it’s possible he’ll be only the only foreign-based player taken in the first round. Three others – 6-10 Dario Saric from Croatia, 7-1 Jusuf Nurkic from Bosnia and 6-9 Clint Capela from Switzerland – are seen as first-round candidates but not as locks. Exum is.