CHICAGO -- Xavier Thames wasn’t in the middle of a media crush at the NBA draft combine on Thursday, but the former Pleasant Grove High School standout is accustomed to being overlooked.
Although Thames averaged 17.6 points as a senior at San Diego State, which had one of the best teams in the country, the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year has attacted little attention. But Thames was lightly recruited at Pleasant Grove, so he’s fine with just having a chance to be drafted.
“You can’t really look at that,” Thames said of being overlooked. “I’ve been dealing with that my whole life. I’m just blessed to be here.”
But he doesn’t feel overmatched against players from bigger conferences.
It helps that two former Aztecs, Kawhi Leonard and Jamaal Franklin, are in the NBA. And Thames relies on a growing network of Sacramento-area players who made an impact in college.
The Bay Area dominates talk of Northern California high school basketball, but Thames believes that’s changing with his success and that of Chase Tapley, who also played at San Diego State, and others such as Ryan Anderson, who went from Oak Ridge to Cal to the NBA.
“All the Sacramento guys stay in touch,” Thames said. “I still talk to Kevin (Galloway from Sacramento High), I talk to DeMarcus (Nelson from Sheldon) as well, Roburt Sallie (from Valley), all those guys. They set it up for us. We’re just trying to keep building because nobody really knows about us.”
Foreign interest – Australia’s Dante Exum might be the most intriguing prospect at the combine.
That’s because many have never seen him play. He’s 6-foot-6, doesn’t turn 19 until July 13 and might be the best point guard in the draft.
His father, Cecil, played on North Carolina’s 1982 national championship team that featured Michael Jordan and James Worthy. Exum was born in Australia, where his father also played professionally.
Exum, who reportedly had been angling to be drafted by the Lakers, has been working out in Los Angeles, and his agent is Rob Pelinka, who also represents Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
But Exum said, “There’s no one team I really want to go to.”