Aussie Dyson Daniels strives to be like Chicago guard Alex Caruso

Growing up, Dyson Daniels assumed college would provide the best avenue to realising his NBA dreams, with an opportunity to follow in father Ricky's footsteps at NC State very much on the table.

That was until the NBL and G League burst onto the scene in recent seasons, providing a professional avenue for top prospects to cut their teeth on the way to the big league.

"Most people want to go to college and go to a D1 school, but once the NBL and G League came into play I thought that was what I wanted to do if I wanted to get to the NBA," Daniels told ESPN.

"Leaving my home country, I didn't want to do that but with the G League playing the NBA rules, 48 minutes, NBA length court and ball, everything is NBA. Being in America, that's where the NBA is, there are a lot more scouts and teams and eyes on the G League Ignite."

Signing with the Ignite in a move he described as "a risk", Daniels admits there was some trepidation with his parents on forgoing a college education to join a professional league.

"I had an offer from NC State, so Dad was looking at that, but (my parents) wanted the best for me," he said. "Obviously, it's hard for a parent to take their son out of school, it took Mum a little while to come around but looking back it was the right decision.

"There is always education I can go back and get but this opportunity with the G League only comes once."

One of the little-known benefits in the Ignite organisation is access to the Professional Pathway Program, which allows prospects to be enrolled at Arizona State University to take part in weekly classes. The education program is designed to tutor the future stars in the essentials of sports business.

"We took two zoom classes a week, mainly on real estate, nutrition and money, how to deal with it," Daniels. explained.

"The last week with Ignite we had a class every day in person, they sat down with us and did some activities on life skills and stuff we would have learned in college. I think being able to learn off that was really good, and it was great having the basketball side but also a little bit of the college side."

An expected lottery pick, Daniels is set to earn a rookie wage in excess of $3 million (US), further emphasising the importance on financial education, in which Daniels became particularly invested in.

"I really invested in real estate," he said. "I sat down with a few of the Arizona State teachers and talked about options, how to save money, spend, invest, all that stuff. For me it was really beneficial because I want to be smart with my money and of course invest and make more money. Being able to sit with them and talk through strategies and stuff like that was healthy."

Wise beyond his years in many respects, some things never change. Back in Australia for the next month with the Ignite season complete, he smiles as he declares mum's cooking an important part in the continued transformation of a still growing frame.

"Right now, I'm at around 200 pounds. 210 pounds by the draft I want to get to and then 220-225 long term. It's not just about living in the weight room, it's about what you eat," Daniels said.

"For me that's mum, I'm communicating with her all the time when I'm coming home to have meals ready. She's got my back. Pasta, protein all that sort of stuff. Playing basketball, you are sweating and losing weight, so I have to make sure I'm getting my fluids and definitely eating.

"I've told her, if I want to get to my goal, she has to be onto this. She's been really helpful," he continued with a laugh.

In addition to packing on the pounds, Daniels is still growing. Currently 6'7" without shoes, he believes that number may not yet be the finished product, adding further intrigue to his prowess on the defensive side of the ball that will make him a desired commodity.

In a world where 'getting buckets' gets all the praise, Daniels thrives on his ability to impact the game on the other end of the floor.

"I don't know where it came from but from a young age, I've always had defensive instincts," he said.

"Going through the process of getting older, defence is going to keep you on the court. The best defender is always going to be on the court guarding the best player and I think for me, knowing I can be the best defender on the team and take the opportunity to defend the best player will keep me on the court.

"If I'm having a bad offensive night, I know my defence can always be on, so I think that's my main way of helping a team win. I was born with instincts, quick hands, quick feet, a big body, I am able to guard multiple positions. I've been blessed with physical features, but defence is also a lot about effort."

It's that desire to defend that has him eyeing an unexpected player as someone he models his game on.

Chicago Bulls guard, Alex Caruso.

"Alex Caruso is one of the best defenders in the league, no doubt," Daniels said. "The way he moves his feet, his instincts. Playing on that Lakers team, that was what kept him on the floor. Now going to the Bulls he's the best defender on the team. It's effort, I watch highlights of him all the time, chase down steals, chase down blocks.

"I model myself on his game, defence first and then offence will come. It's been really beneficial just watching highlights of him and seeing how far he's come."

On the other end, he was enlisted with point guard duties for much of the season, with the jump to playing against experienced professionals an initially eye-opening experience.

"You're playing against guys on two-way contracts. They are trying to play well to get into their team. The competition at the start, I was really shocked, I think my first four games I was really poor," he said. "I was turning the ball over; I knew from that I had to work on some things to play at this level.

"Thankfully the coach trusted me, put the ball in my hands and from the 10th game of the season I felt really comfortable, I knew what I had to do to succeed. Going up against pros was huge for me and a great learning experience."

Emerging as the premier prospect on the Ignite roster, the rising Australian is projected as the 10th overall pick in ESPN's latest mock draft. Despite the building buzz, Daniels remains remarkably grounded, which isn't always easy as a teenager in the social media era.

"It's very hard being young in the social media world where everyone is on it," he said. "You see everything and for me it's just not responding.

"Everyone will have their opinion, you just have to be able to block it. I see criticism, but if I respond it's just going to add fuel to the fire. It's just putting the phone down and putting the work in."

For now, until draft night, work is indeed the word of choice.

"For me, it's just preparing, working on things I need to work on for the draft," he said. "I've got feedback from coaches and for me it's living in the weight room, putting on some size, getting heaps of reps on my shot. The shot is my swing skill, it's making sure I've got my mechanics right, getting those reps and of course conditioning."

Watch Dyson Daniels' full chat on The Jump here.