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Jazz introduce Dante Exum and Rodney Hood

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - New Jazz draft picks Dante Exum and Rodney Hood both can't wait to begin their NBA careers.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - There's no question Utah Jazz fans and management were absolutely thrilled when Dante Exum and Rodney Hood fell into their laps at the NBA Draft Thursday night.

"We were hopeful that it played out the way it played out," said general manager Dennis Lindsey. "We were fortunate to be frank."

Exum, the 5th overall pick, and Hood (23rd) were introduced to the media Friday afternoon and can't wait to begin their NBA careers.

"It's an honor to be here," said Exum. "It's been a dream of mine to be drafted and I couldn't be happier to be drafted by the Utah Jazz."

Exum has all the tools to be successful. At 6-foot-6, he is lightning quick, can score from anywhere on the court and plays solid defense. But, having played his entire career in Australia, Exum remains a mystery. However, that's something he hopes to change soon.

"Being a mystery, people obviously haven't seen me play a lot," Exum said. "But when I step on the court in summer league, I'm just going to play hard and show them the Australian type of basketball that we like to play."

Of course the big question is how will Exum play with Trey Burke? They both are point guards, but new head coach Quin Snyder has a plan. 

"I think they'll make each other better," Snyder said. "When you get basketball players and everybody kind of has a feel of how to play, positions just kind of fall away. Particularly with those two guys, Trey will get some spot up threes in transition, while they'll both get to the rim."

Even though he won't turn 19 until July, Exum has lived away from home since he was 15. He says he'll miss his family, but knows he can see them anytime he wants. It will just take some doing. 

"It's a long flight over, but they'll be there for me," he said. "If I want them here, they'll be over in 20 hours."

That's about how long Rodney Hood was up Thursday when his NBA dreams were finally realized.

"I couldn't really sleep last night," Hood said. "I wanted to just get here and see the town. It was great to see the mountains coming in. I heard a lot about the fans and the people here in town. It's a little different than Mississippi."

Maybe just a little. Hood was a prolific scorer at Duke, shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. At 6-foot-8, Hood can also play above the rim. He's a high-character guy, as evidenced of being named a team captain in his first season at Duke. Hood's father runs a Boys & Girls Club, while his mother is a school principal. He says he learned his leadership skills from his parents.

"My mom was my principal for a few years, so I just tried to stay out of trouble," Hood said with a smile. "It was great having them as a support system throughout high school. In my college career, I became a little bit more vocal. The guys kind of gravitated towards me, so coach decided to make me a captain."

Dennis Lindsey cautions Jazz fans to be patient with these two talented rookies. Their impacts will be felt, just over time.

"We're not going to skip any steps with them," Lindsey said. "They're excellent players, but they're better young men. We feel, literally, that they're couldn't have been two better fits for the Jazz organization."
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