Emmanuel Mudiay, the top-rated high school guard in the U.S., will skip college and try to play professionally overseas before entering the National Basketball Association draft.
Mudiay, a Dallas native who last year committed to hometown Southern Methodist University, made the decision for financial reasons, according to SMU coach Larry Brown. The 18-year-old can sign a professional contract in other countries, which offer options outside the amateurism of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
“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,” Brown, who has coached nine NBA teams, said in an e-mailed statement. “While I believe that college is the best way to prepare for life and the NBA, Emmanuel’s situation is unique.”
In the statement, Brown said it was a “hardship issue,” not an academic issue, because Mudiay already has been admitted to the university. He didn’t elaborate.
The NBA requires that players be at least 19 and one year removed from their high school graduating class to be eligible for the draft.
Mudiay, a 6-foot-5 point guard, committed to SMU over Kentucky and Kansas. Recruiting website Rivals.com rated him the best guard of the 2014 class, and the second-best overall prospect behind center Jahlil Okafor.
Mudiay’s decision mirrors that of former high school prospect Brandon Jennings, who in 2008 played in the Euroleague with Lottomatica Roma prior to earning NBA eligibility. Jennings signed a three-year, $1.65 million contract with the club, according to ESPN, and was selected No. 10 overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2009 NBA Draft.
New York Knicks forward Jeremy Tyler skipped his final year of high school to play in Israel. After a season there and another in Japan, he was selected in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats.
Jennings also signed a $2 million sponsorship deal with Under Armour Inc. while he was overseas, according to ESPN.
Under Armour, which sponsors Mudiay’s high school and summer league teams, is helping the Dallas prospect land a deal overseas, ESPN reported yesterday, citing an unidentified person with knowledge of the process.