Top basketball recruit Emmanuel Mudiay turns down Larry Brown and SMU to play professionally overseas

Emmanuel Mudiay, considered the top high school guard in the class of 2014, will hire an agent and pursue a professional basketball career overseas rather than play college basketball for Coach Larry Brown at Southern Methodist, Evan Daniels of Scout.com is reporting.

Mudiay was ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit by 247Sports, the No. 2 recruit by Rivals and No. 5 recruit by ESPN. He chose SMU over Kentucky and was seen as the linchpin of Brown’s rebuilding efforts at SMU.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski says that sources told him Mudiay, a 6-foot-5 native of the Congo who played high school basketball in Dallas, was worried “about his ability to become academically eligible to play his freshman year.” Wojnariowski says China has been discussed as a possible destination for Mudiay, who averaged 16 points, six rebounds and four assists per game for Prime Prep in Dallas last season.

But Jeff Goodman of ESPN offered an alternate explanation for Mudiay’s move:

Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv, through a source, also said the decision had nothing to do with academics, but rather “it had everything to do with him wanting to take care of his family.”

Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated is reporting something similar.

Only two high-profile basketball players are known to have foregone college basketball to play professionally overseas. Brandon Jennings, the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2008, spurned Arizona to play professionally in Italy for one season after graduating from high school. He was selected 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2009 NBA draft and currently plays for the Detroit Pistons. Jeremy Tyler, meanwhile, skipped his senior year of high school in San Diego to play professionally in Israel, playing in only 10 games for Maccabi Haifa for the 2009-10 season. He spent the 2010-11 season playing professionally in Japan before getting drafted with the 39th overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2011 NBA draft.  Last season, he played 17 games for the New York Knicks. Zagoria reports that the move will likely have little bearing on Mudiay’s chances in the 2015 NBA draft, where he is expected to be a top pick.

Brown seems to be taking the news about as well as possible.

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