Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
SMU Guard Emmanuel Mudiay Headed Overseas, Could Still Be No. 1 Pick in 2015 NBA Draft (UPDATED)
SMU freshman guard Emmanuel Mudiay will head overseas to pursue a professional career instead of enrolling at the Dallas school, but still could end up being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
“He stil has a chance to be the No. 1 pick regardless of where he plays,” a veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv.
“If he continues to develop, it could come down to him or [Jahlil] Okafor for the No. 1 pick next year.”
Mudiay is projected as the No. 3 pick in the 2015 Draft by DraftExpress.com behind big men Okafor of Duke and Cliff Alexander of Kansas.
Current NBA players Brandon Jennings of the Detroit Pistons and Jeremy Tyler of the Knicks both skipped college in America to head overseas, with Jennings playing in Italy and Tyler spending time in Israel and Japan.
Now the 6-foot-5 Mudiay will follow the same trajectory.
“I was excited about going to SMU and playing college basketball for coach [Larry] Brown and his staff and preparing for the NBA,” Mudiay said in a statement given to Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated via his older brother, Stephane Mudiay.
“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.”
Mudiay’s decision had more to do with finances than with his academics or the situation at Prime Prep, Deion Sanders‘ school in Dallas. SMU expected Mudiay to pass through the NCAA Clearinghouse, and an NCAA source told SNY.tv, “Anyone who’s saying that he wouldn’t have qualified for sure is simply guessing.”
“This is not an academic issue, since [Mudiay] has been admitted to SMU, but rather a hardship issue,” Brown said in a statement. “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.”
The story was previously reported by Yahoo! Sports and Scout.com.
Reached by phone, Brown declined comment on the specifics but told SNY.tv, “At the end of the day it’s about the kid.”
Brown recently told SNY.tv that Mudiay, a McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American who committed to SMU last August, is “the best player in the country” and will be a lottery pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
“It ain’t even close,” Brown told SNY.tv. “He’s 6-5, he can just play. He makes people better, he can defend, he can rebound.
“He’s going to be a lottery pick if I don’t screw up.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.