Originally posted on College Spun  |  Last updated 7/14/14
Emmanuel Mudiay was the only played committed to Larry Brown and SMU for the 2014 season, but the 6-foot-5 guard was a good one. The Congo native is rated as the second best recruit in the country, and was set to complete a very talented roster that many felt was a favorite to win the AAC this year. According to various reports this afternoon, Mudiay will no longer be playing at SMU, and will instead look to play overseas before declaring for next year’s NBA Draft. The decision is not unprecedented—current Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings bypassed his commitment to Arizona to play overseas for a season in Italy before entering the NBA. This story is a bit different, however, because the reasons for Mudiay going overseas, rather than playing at SMU, are not entirely clear. Mudiay’s brother Stephane told Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn that the decision is for financial reasons. Just talked with Emmanuel Mudiay’s brother Stephane, and he gave me a statement from Emmanuel. Statement will be in following Tweets. — Luke Winn (@lukewinn) July 14, 2014 1. “I was excited about going to SMU and playing college basketball for coach Brown and his staff and preparing for the NBA.” … — Luke Winn (@lukewinn) July 14, 2014 Mudiay 2: “But I was tired of seeing my mom struggle. And after sitting down with coach Brown and my family …” — Luke Winn (@lukewinn) July 14, 2014 Mudiay 3: “we decided that the best way for me to provide for my mom was to forgo college and pursue professional basketball opportunities.” — Luke Winn (@lukewinn) July 14, 2014 Mudiay 4: “I am grateful for Prime Prep coach [Ray] Forsett for developing me into the player and man that I am … “ — Luke Winn (@lukewinn) July 14, 2014 Mudiay 5: “and I am also grateful for coach Brown’s guidance and his support. This has nothing to do with my eligibility in any way.” — Luke Winn (@lukewinn) July 14, 2014 Stephane Mudiay said this was a recent decision and insisted that it was not the result of an NCAA investigation. — Luke Winn (@lukewinn) July 14, 2014 To recap, Emmanuel Mudiay told SI that he’s pursing pro opportunities immediately — rather than going to SMU — so he can help his mother. — Luke Winn (@lukewinn) July 14, 2014 CBS Sports has more from Mudiay’s camp: “After sitting down with coach [Larry] 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,” the statement read. “I was excited about going to SMU and playing college basketball for coach Brown and his staff and preparing for the NBA, but I was tired of seeing my mom stuggle. I am grateful for coach Brown’s guidance and support and I am also appreciative of all the support from Prime Prep”… Emmanuel has decided to pursue professional basketball opportunities,” the statement read. “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.” Meanwhile, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that both academic concerns and issues with Mudiay’s NCAA eligibility played a part in the decision: Mudiay had conversations with Brown and university officials about his ability to become academically eligible to play his freshman year, sources told Yahoo Sports. Mudiay wanted to play for the Hall of Fame coach at his hometown school, but there were concerns about the NCAA clearing him to play for the 2014-15 season, sources said. Beyond academic eligibility concerns, Mudiay also had worries about a possible NCAA probe that could’ve jeopardized his amateur status, sources told Yahoo Sports. Both the Yahoo! and CBS Sports reports mention China as a possible destination for Mudiay. No matter what the reasoning in, college basketball fans will miss out on an exciting young talent, and the SMU program has taken a big hit with this decision.
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