Utah Jazz introduce Dante Exum and Rodney Hood
Dennis Lindsey: With Dante and Rodney, we’re excited. They’re excellent players, but they’re better young men. And we feel, literally, that there couldn’t’ve been two better fits for the Jazz organization.
Quin Snyder: Dante and Rodney, for me, we’re obviously extremely excited that they’re here. I think Dennis alluded to the fit.
For myself, as a coach, it begins really with their character. Through and through, everything that we’ve heard about both these young men is that they’re strong young men.
Capable of being coached hard, which is always good for the coach. And they love the game, and they’re people that, in trying to continue to build a culture here with the Jazz, that we feel like they’ll be terrific in that building process.
Dante Exum: Firstly, I’d just like to say it’s an honor to be here. You know, it’s been a dream of mine for the longest to be drafted, and I couldn’t be happier to be drafted by the Utah Jazz. They have a rich tradition in the way they play, with, through John Stockton and Karl Malone, and to be named, to be a part of that is just, it’s truly an honor.
And you know, speaking to coach after I got drafted, it was good to hear the plans in the development he has planned for me, so you know, I couldn’t be happier and I can’t wait to meet my teammates.
Rodney Hood: Just echoing what he said, I’m very excited to be here, be a part of the Jazz family. And you know, couldn’t really sleep last night. You know, wanted to just get here and you know, see the town…
You know, and it works out in mysterious ways, but you know, it was a blessing to be a part of this family.
What do you plan to do to put your mark on the team and learn as quickly as you can?
Some of the best advice I’ve gotten is just to kind of hook onto a veteran and you know, I’ll start to get a feel for the team and kinda who’s been in the lean–the league for a long time.
You know, just kind of learn the ropes from them and then try from there to earn the respect and try and lead in my own way ’cause as a point guard, that’s one of the important things, is having a good relationship with every teammate. And then being able to lead from that.
Mike Krzyzewski has only taken four transfers in his entire coaching career. How did you go from a redshirt to a captain?
It kinda took me by surprise, honestly. I came in, and you know, it took me awhile to get adjusted to Duke. You know, coming from my previous school at Mississippi State, you know, you go from a place where you hope to win to going to a place where you expect to win.
And just the everyday atmosphere, you know, I had to learn how to, you know, just grind every single day. And I had guys like [former Duke assistant coach] Steve Wojciechowski, [former Duke associate coach] Chris Collins and [Duke associate head coach] coach Jeff Capel, who was able to, I was able to lean on in that year, and kept me in the gym, and just worked hard on my game.
Also, got a chance to focus on my schoolwork, with Kenny King, the academic advisor, and I just got a lot better. I learned how to be patient. You know, I learned a lot, and you know, I took it over into the season and pre-season, and I worked hard. You know, I became a little bit more vocal, and guys [kind of] gravitated toward me. So coach saw that, and decided to make me a captain.
Can you expound on why homesickness won’t be an issue for you?
It might seem weird, but I don’t get homesick. I’ve been away from home since I was 15 living at the [Australian Institute of Sport], and you know, I do miss my family but they give me the support.
And you know, there’s Skype calls and all that, and I’m sure it’s a, just a, it’s a long flight over but you know, they’ll be there for me and if I want them here, they’ll be over in 20 hours.
In which ways do you feel the pro game will suit you better than the collegiate game?
I think the game’s just gon open up for me. You know, me being able to shoot the ball, and learning different things about myself, you know, throughout this draft process. You know, I’ve gotten a little stronger so I can post up more. And it’s a lot more space so I can put the ball on the floor, you know, one or two times and get to the basket.
So, and defensively, you know, I just need to, you know, learn how to use my length and continue to get better at that. You know, on the, ’cause, you know, everybody’s a good player on this league. So, just gotta continue to get better in all facets, but I think just the spacing will help me a lot.
You were a point guard at Duke and the Jazz draft a point guard and a player from Duke? Seems like you might’ve been pulling some strings in this draft.
It’s not the fact that it’s a point guard. It’s this point guard. And it’s not the fact it’s a Duke player. It’s this Duke player.
What are the challenges for Exum and Hood to become productive NBA players?
Dante, you know, mentioned the youth of our team. I think we have players that really wanna work and get better. And in that sense, the youth becomes a real asset. And I’m remembering, Rodney, that you said you wanted to play defense, okay? Don’t forget that.
Which aspects of your game do you want to improve the most over the summer to be best prepared for your first NBA season?
I’m looking to get faster. You know, coming from where I’ve come from, you know, the game steps up, and you know, everyone’s better at this level, so that’s just definitely one thing. And then also, shooting. Just being a consistent shooter and having the confidence to step up to the 3-point line and knock down the shot.
I just wanna get in the best shape I can possible, and get as strong as I, get my body right. That’s how Imma be able to contribute right away. And you know, just learning the game more on both ends of the floor.
How did your parents (president of a Boys and Girls Club and a principal) raise you and how did that contribute to your leadership skills?
It helped me out a lot. You know, I grew up in the Boys and Girls Club. You know, my, everybody in my family played ball and that’s where I learned how to play ball, at the Boys and Girls Club. And you know, they, my mom, you know, was my principal for a few years so I tried to stay out of trouble.
But it was just great having them as a support system, you know, throughout high school, my college career. They were always there for me.
And just, you know, I guess her being my principal really helped me out a lot, ’cause you know, if I got in trouble at school, then I had to go home and face him. So, but it’s just good having that basketball background and I’m blessed to have them.
** People demoting Utah from “city” to “town”: Bryan Miller.
** Dante Exum has a twin sister.
** Rodney Hood’s parents are named Ricky and Vicky.
** Hood’s girlfriend, Richa, played four years of college ball at Duke and will be playing professionally in Brazil next season.
“But Dennis, before you stand up, I have to just make one comm–“
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machines (UDQM)
** Randy Rigby at the beginning of the press conference: Thank you all for coming this afternoon. It has been a whirlwind 24 hours, literally to the point that Greg just picked up Dante and Rodney less than 30 minutes ago.
** Dennis Lindsey in the middle of the press conference: We’re a little late, but better late than never.
** Rigby at the end of the press conference: It was very gratifying for me, as we came, to the decision time, the climax time.