Emmanuel Mudiay is one of the best high school prospects coming out of school this year and had previously committed to his hometown school of Southern Methodist University, where he would have been coached by Larry Brown.
Mudiay and his family insist that this decision was made for the well-being of his family and not out of concerns about eligibility. Either way the NCAA and SMU are losing out on one of the best guard prospects in years. Here are Mudiay's comments about playing overseas and the reasons behind it (quotes were given by his brother Jean-Michael Mudiay).
"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 was to forgo college and pursue professional basketball opportunities. This is in no shape or form because of the NCAA or any eligibility issues."
So, it appears that Mudiay is making a financial decision here. The likes of Jennings and Tyler were ones to do the same. Jennings went to play in Italy for Virtus Roma for a reported $1.2 million (including salary and endorsements) contract and ended up being drafted 10th overall in 2009 by the Milwaukee Bucks. Tyler followed Jennings' path and ended up playing in Israel and Japan before being drafted 39th overall in 2011 by the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Hornets).
While it appears the lucrative contract Mudiay can command internationally will be at least what Jennings earned, there are some inherent risks with going overseas to play professionally. Jennings himself warned other high school prospects of the perils of playing overseas.
"I've gotten paid on time once this year. They treat me like a little kid. They don't see me as a man. If you get on a good team, you might not play a lot. Some nights you'll play a lot; some nights you won't play at all. That's just how it is." Later Jennings finished with, "It's tough man, I'll tell you that. It can break you."
While Jennings clearly ended up okay after being drafted 10th overall, it seems he might have decided to do things differently if he had the chance again. Maybe he would have stayed in the U.S., opting instead to show off his talent in the NBA's D-League, a la P.J. Hairston, last season.
Hairston had eligibility issues at the University of North Carolina and ended up playing 26 games for the Texas Legends, averaging 21.8 points on his way to being drafted 26th overall by the Miami Heat (and being traded to the Charlotte Hornets shortly after).
If Mudiay were to remain stateside and showcase his talents in the NBADL, it could really benefit him in the sense that he will be seen on a regular basis and he will surely get starter minutes on a nightly basis. Mudiay is widely considered to be a top-3 prospect and some have even compared him to Russell Westbrook, because of his size and athleticism at the point guard spot.
"He's the most special point guard I've ever seen at that age. He plays the right way, and God has given him incredible gifts. We all know [the NBA is] a point guard's league." When asked about Mudiay's chances of going first overall in the draft Brown said, "Without question, that's my hope."