Making Sense of the Guangdong Southern Tigers Signing of 18-Year-Old Emmanuel Mudiay
After all of the hoopla that went on at the 2014 NBA Draft last month in New York City, the media’s attention has now turned to the next class that will most likely grace the stage come 2015, with phenom point guard Emmanuel Mudiay being on the lips of every pundit.
The 18-year-old, who was highly recruited by college basketball programs at Kentucky, Baylor, Kansas, Arizona and his eventual pick Southern Methodist University, decided to forgo college to enter the professional ranks immediately.
Various media outlets such as ESPN and Yahoo! Sports reported that the 6-5 guard reached an agreement with perennial Chinese Basketball Association side the Guangdong Southern Tigers on a one-year $1.2 million deal.
While news of the signing made news across the United States and China, there are questions as to whether Mudiay going pro at such a young age is the right move.
High school basketball players making the move to the professional ranks has always been a highly controversial issue in the United States as many critics believe they do not have the necessary skill set or attitude to move up to the big time. Examples such as Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire and megastar LeBron James have proven the critics wrong as they have gone on to have varying levels of success in the NBA. However, the issue has never dissipated as the league went on to invoke a rule stating that potential draftees must be 19 years old and one year out of high school.
The “one-and-done rule” has become a household name in American basketball as current NBA players such as Derrick Rose, John Wall and Kevin Love ended their college careers after one season to take advantages of the riches in the NBA.
However, as many writers have been talking about, Mudiay’s move to the professional ranks now, if successful, could see other promising basketball talents bypass college all together to play one season of professional ball overseas before entering the NBA draft.
The Congo-born Mudiay is not the first player to take this step as Brandon Jennings of the Detroit Pistons decided to bypass college to sign with an Italian team in 2008, but NBA scouts will be watching very closely to see how Mudiay progresses in the months leading up to next year’s draft.
Some may question the competitiveness of the CBA or whether Mudiay will impress during his year-long stint in China, but the agreement is actually a win-win for both. The Tigers will play a role in the development of the Mudiay while also not tying him down to a long-term contract, which would have been a turn off. Europe would not have been option for him as teams there would prefer to sign players to long-term deals, leaving China as the next best option. In additon, Mudiay will be playing not only with one of the top teams in the CBA, he will also be playing alongside veterans such as Yi Jianlian, Zhu Fangyu and Wang Shipeng as well as their crop of young players.
Th competition in the CBA is going to test the prep star and it is what he is going to need once he makes the expected transition to the NBA next year. One of the few match ups that many will look forward to is when Mudiay takes on Liaoning Flying Leopards guard Guo Ailun during the season. Even him going one-on-one against CBA/NBA veteran Stephon Marbury when the Tigers take on the Beijing Ducks is going to be a treat.
The biggest challenge Guangdong will have during the year-long agreement is whether they can help Mudiay to adjust to life in China as he is only 18 years old. Perhaps he will take a couple of family members along with him, which will certainly be helpful, but when you are talking about a teen who is now taking a step up to the pro level, especially in a foreign country, he is without a doubt going to experience culture shock. Of course, life in the CBA is nowhere similar to what players go through in the NBA, but coaches and officials at Guangdong will need to do their best to keep Mudiay as comfortable as possible.
It is uncertain as to whether Mudiay’s move will lead to a trend of up-and-coming American ballers taking their talents overseas for a year before entering the NBA draft, but it could be an option that they consider should he play well during his stint in the Chinese league.
Links and Sources:
- Bleacher Report – Emmanuel Mudiay Could Become Trendsetter If Year Abroad Is Successful
- Scout Hoops – Emmanuel Mudiay
- NBC Sports – Skipping college makes Emmanuel Mudiay the most important player in 2014 class
- Sports Illustrated – Alliances forged Emmanuel Mudiay’s path from Africa to U.S. to SMU
- Yahoo! – Will Emmanuel Mudiay’s jump to China be the start of a trend for recruits?
- Dallas News – Report: Emmanuel Mudiay cleared by NCAA, will still play overseas instead of at SMU