Emmanuel Mudiay has officially signed an endorsement deal with Under Armour, the sports apparel company announced on Tuesday.
The terms of the deal were not immediately available. Under Armour also signed Brandon Jennings, a former No. 1 recruit that decided to head to Italy instead of play one season for Arizona.
Mudiay is one of the elite prospects in the Class of 2014, but the big, athletic point guard signed a contract with the Guangdong Southern Dragons in China instead of enrolling at SMU this season. The reason that the Mudiay family gave for his decision was that the player was “tired of seeing my mom struggle“, although there have been multiple reports that the decision was at least partly influenced by the fact that Mudiay was staring down the barrel of eligibility issues with the NCAA.
The 6-foot-5 Mudiay is going to be an interesting case-study moving forward, as he is just the third elite high schooler to turn pro overseas for his one season in NBA purgatory. The previous two were Jennings, who became a lottery pick and has had a successful NBA career since returning stateside, and Jeremy Tyler, who was drafted but is much more famous for his decision to leave high school as a junior than he is for anything he’s done on the court since then.
Ending up in China only makes Mudiay’s path more interesting. The league pays well and the country loves basketball, but it’s a league that is notoriously fickle about paying salaries and expects massive numbers out of the Americans on their rosters.
The biggest question that will be asked? Can Mudiay be a trailblazer for elite high school prospects, or is the overseas route one that doesn’t have much future for teenagers that just want a seven-figure salary for one season?