The plan has been for former SMU commit Emmanuel Mudiay to stay one year in China before declaring for the 2015 NBA Draft. However, an ankle injury could end his stay China sooner than expected.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported early on Friday morning that the former five-star prospect from Prime Prep Academy (Texas) has missed the last four games with an ankle injury, which makes his future unclear with the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
In Mudiay’s absence, the Tigers have signed former NBA point guard Will Bynum to a short-term deal, although, they are apparently in talks for a contract through the remainder of the season. This creates a problem as each in the Chinese Basketball Association are allowed to have only two players from the United States on its roster.
It is possible that Guangdong could release Mudiay and pay him the balance of his contract, or hold onto the teenager and watch how Bynum impacts the team until Mudiay’s ankle allows him to return to the lineup. Eventually, Guangdong could make a decision on which guard to keep – and release the other. Nevertheless, it would be an immense investment to bring Bynum over on a guaranteed $1 million-plus agreement – only to use him for one or two weeks.
Mudiay’s injury is only a short-term hurdle for the team, but Guangdong, a perennial Chinese power, has dropped into fourth place and has been anxious to get his production back on the floor. Guangdong has won three out of four games without Mudiay.
Mudiay has to protect his draft value, and his representatives will be exceedingly careful to make sure he doesn’t risk further injury or poor performance in China. If released, Mudiay could simply return to the United States and train in preparation to begin predraft workouts with NBA teams prior to the June draft.
In 10 games, Mudiay was averaging 17.7 points per game. He had originally committed to the Mustangs — over Kentucky — as the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals. However, in the July, after growing concerns regarding his eligibility, he announced he would seek a professional career in lieu of spending one season under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Larry Brown.
He is projected as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, according to DraftExpress.com.
[h/t ProBasketball Talk]