Emmanuel Mudiay, one of the top high school basketball recruits, will forgo playing for Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown at Southern Methodist University and will play in China instead. He has signed a one-year contract worth $1.2 million with Guangdong of the China Basketball Association, Yahoo Sports reports.
According to the news site, Mudiay, a 19-year-old 6-foot-5 combo guard, has struggled to meet NCAA freshman-eligibility requirements. As a result, he might have been forced to sit out his freshman year. Mudiay will instead play in China for one year, at which point he’ll be old enough for the 2015 NBA draft, in which he is considered to be a top-five pick.
Mudiay’s plan (according to a source who spoke with Yahoo) is to play the full season in the CBA (its season ends in March) and then return to the U.S. to prepare himself for the 2015 draft in June. Mudiay has taken precautions against injuries, according to Yahoo, which notes that he has insurance policies to “protect him in China against injury that could impact his future earnings,” a source said.
Mudiay is not the first player to take this path to the NBA. In 2008 Brandon Jennings became the first player to take his talents straight from high school to play with Pallacanestro Virtus Roma, a top Italian team.
Guangdong is considered one of the more dominant teams in the Chinese league, with a roster that features former NBA lottery pick Yi Jianlian, who fizzled out in the NBA, and ex-NBA guard Royal Ivey.
“He’ll be able to athletically overwhelm other players in China, but the key with him will be socially,” a coach who has worked in China told ESPN. “That won’t be easy.”