In order to support his family, top 2015 NBA draft prospect Emmanuel Mudiay is going to turn pro instead of attend SMU for the 2014-15 NCAA season. Evan Daniels of Scout had the news first, and Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated got the full statement from Mudiay’s brother Stephane:
“I was excited about going to SMU and playing college basketball for coach Brown and his staff and preparing for the NBA. But I was tired of seeing my mom struggle. And after sitting down with coach Brown and my family we decided that the best way for me to provide for my mom was to forgo college and pursue professional basketball opportunities. I am grateful for Prime Prep coach [Ray] Forsett for developing me into the player and man that I am and I am also grateful for coach Brown’s guidance and his support. This has nothing to do with my eligibility in any way.”
This doesn’t particularly throw a major wrench into the 2015 draft, simply because Mudiay has an NBA-ready frame already and would have been drafted in the lottery after his senior high school season in the stronger 2014 NBA draft. His combination of athleticism and strength was going to be far too much for most AAC prospects to handle, so turning professional and playing against more well-developed athletes probably will help progress his game.
Coach Brown obviously could have helped him instinctually, but Mudiay also already possesses an excellent feel in the pick-and-roll, which is the bread and butter for most NBA point guard prospects. Our initial 2015 draft big board comes out next Monday after the Las Vegas Summer League concludes, and this does nothing to change how highly Mudiay will rate. This is still absolutely a preseason top-five prospect that is a more well-developed version of Marcus Smart at the age of 18.
However, this decision does send some interesting reverberations throughout the collegiate basketball system. This is the first example of a modern top-ten recruit that has spurned the NCAA for professional opportunities due to monetary problems as opposed to eligibility issues (remember, Brandon Jennings couldn’t qualify for Arizona). A situation such as this will only continue to intensify the debate about paying high-leverage collegiate athletes. Depending on how Mudiay’s season goes this year, this could present a great opportunity for other high-end prospects to get paid for a season while waiting to be eligible for the NBA Draft.
Mudiay already has a lucrative offer to play in Asia, according to Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports. Undoubtedly this hurts what was shaping up to be a top-ten SMU squad that had designs on winning the AAC this year. We’ll continue to keep you updated as we find out more about where Mudiay plans to play this upcoming season.