By: Richard W. Humphrey
Monday turned out to be “blue Monday” in Mustangville when Emmanuel Mudiay announced that he would not be attending SMU this fall. He has decided to accept a lucrative offer to play professional basketball in Asia, though terms of the offer were not disclosed.Mudiay was ranked by various recruiting gurus as the second to the fifth best player in the high school class of 2014. Many experts thought the 6′-5″ point guard would have been drafted among the top 10 selections in this year’s draft had the NBA still allowed the drafting of recent high school graduates. With a good season at SMU, he could easily have been in the mix to be the number one pick in next year’s NBA draft. He would have been the second McDonald’s All-American to play at SMU joining sophomore Keith Frazier.
The news began leaking in the twitter, E-mail and text message universes around noon yesterday. Eventually, Sports Illustratedbasketball writer Jeff Borzello posted an article confirming the news on SI.com.
He quoted a statement that Mudiay released to SI.com, saying “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 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.”
There have been rumors that questions have arisen about Mudiay’s eligibility after graduating from Prime Prep Academy in the Dallas area. There were other questions as to benefits he has received from Under Armor in particular and how that could have affected his amateur status. Mudiay flatly denied that his decision was based on these concerns.
“This has nothing to do with my eligibility in any way.”
Head coach Larry Brown issued the following statement later in the day:
“Emmanuel Mudiay 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. While I believe that college is the best way to prepare for life and the NBA, Emmanuel’s situation is unique. We were excited about having him at SMU, but we understand this decision and wish him the best.”
For sure, Mudiay is an outstanding player that would have been a tremendous asset to the Mustangs. It was pretty much a given though that he was a “one-and-done” player; that he would have made himself available for the 2015 NBA draft.
On the other hand, if the questions about his amateurism and eligibility accelerated, he could have created a cloud over the program that would have deterred from the other players’ focus. This team is loaded with talent. With or without Mudiay, head coach Larry Brown will have even more problems finding playing time for all the deserving players in his stable than he did last year. There is no reason this team can not still be ranked in the Top 25 throughout the season and have a legitimate chance to win the National Championship.