Emmanuel Mudiay will be skipping college and making the jump to the professional ranks overseas for a season, according to a report from Scout.com.
Mudiay, a 6-foot-5 lead guard from Dallas, is the No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2014. He’s expected to be a lottery pick whenever he becomes eligible for the NBA Draft. He committed to his hometown SMU Mustangs over Kentucky last summer and was a pivotal piece in the expected breakthrough for Larry Brown’s team; he’s the biggest reason that NBCSports has SMU as a preseason top ten team.
Jean-Michael Mudiay provided NBCSports with a statement from Emmanuel: “I was excited about going to SMU and playing college basketball for coach Larry Brown and his staff and preparing for the NBA, but I was tired of seeing my mom struggle. After sitting down with my coach, coach Brown, and my family, we decided that the best way for me to provide for my mom is to forgo college and pursue professional basketball opportunities. I am grateful for coach Brown’s guidance and support. I am grateful for Prime Prep and Coach Forsett for making me into the player that I am today. This is in no shape or form because of the NCAA or any eligibility issues.”
His statement differs from a myriad of reports that this decision stemmed from amateurism concerns and the potential that he’d end up ineligible to play in college.
That there were potential eligibility issues aren’t all that surprising for Mudiay. He’s spent the past two seasons at Prime Prep, a charter school founded by Deion Sanders that has been in the news quite a bit for the issues that they have had running and funding the program. It’s not a secret that every athlete at Prime Prep would have to wrangle with the NCAA over their eligibility. Almost a year ago to the day, LSU freshman Jordan Mickey and TCU freshman Karviar Shepard were initially ruled ineligible by the NCAA, but they won an appeal a few weeks and were allowed to play immediately.
But according to multiple reports, the reason that Mudiay made the decision to turn pro are concerns over his status as an amateur, not issues with Prime Prep’s academics. There are people that are worried about a looming NCAA investigation.
Brown released a statement Monday afternoon as well: “Emmanuel has decided to pursue professional basketball opportunities. This is not an academic issue, since he has been admitted to SMU, but rather a hardship issue. After talking to Emmanuel, I know he really wants to alleviate some of the challenges his family faces and recognizes that he has an opportunity to help them now.”
Losing Mudiay is just a devastating blow for Larry Brown’s club, as he had a chance to be the AAC Player of the Year on a team that was likely the favorite to win the league. He’s a powerful and athletic lead guard that can take over, an elite, game-changing talent. Put him on the floor with some of SMU’s other players — Nic Moore, Markus Kennedy, Yannick Moreira, Keith Frazier, Ben Moore — and allow Brown to work his magic moving those chess pieces, and you’re looking at a Final Four caliber club.
Without him, the Mustangs should still making the NCAA tournament and compete with the likes of Memphis and UConn for the league title, but that special season they were on the brink of having? That’s likely out the window.