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July 22, 2014
Could Mudiay's move to China start a trend?
A week ago, news broke that Emmanuel Mudiay would skip playing college ball at SMU and pursue professional opportunities. That set into motion plenty of discussion about whether the move would be a good or bad one and if it would be emulated by future high-level talents.
Tuesday, the family of the 6-foot-5 point guard from Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep confirmed to Rivals.com that Mudiay will be leaving for China in late September to play for Guangdong. The move -- first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports -- comes along with a contract of $1.2 million for the year overseas.
The wheels that set Mudiay's move into motion will forever be debated. Whether he had to do so because of eligibility concerns or whether he made the move strictly to prepare himself for the NBA while taking care of his family financially is immaterial at this point.
Now that the move has been made, there is little doubt that top prospects and the coaches who recruit them will be watching very closely to see how things go even if there is no guarantee that others will line up to follow in his footsteps.
Allonzo Trier a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who is the No. 12 player in the class of 2015 said that he will be watching closely because he wants to see Mudiay do well. But he doesn't think it will change how he views college versus professional opportunities -- if they come -- overseas.
"I think it will for certain kids under certain circumstances at home, it could make a difference," Trier told Rivals.com. "Some kids come from different lifestyles and circumstances for them at their homes where they may need to help their families.
"Speaking for myself personally, I don't have any real desire to do that. For other people, it may entice them to want and try do that."
Trier isn't just a high-level basketball player, he is an intelligent kid who doesn't feel any pressure to take care of his family in the near future. His insight is important, though, because he can see the difference in how a player who feels pressure to help his family will watch Mudiay in comparison to how he will watch him in China.
Having been able to track Mudiay closely throughout his high school career, I have little doubt that the move will go as smoothly as possible for him. The No. 2 player in the class of 2014 isn't just a prodigious talent, he is mature and has a solid support system around him. If any 18-year old is capable of making the leap from high school senior to millionaire, Mudiay appears to be as well-equipped for it as somebody so young can be.
Bottom line, elite talents skipping college to play overseas is still rare. In the class of 2008 Brandon Jennings did it by going to Italy for a year before heading to the NBA rather than attending Arizona. He is now doing very well for himself in the NBA. In 2009, Jeremy Tyler took it a step further by skipping his senior year of high school to head overseas and made stops in both Israel and Japan before making his way to the NBA where he is preparing for his fourth season in the league.
Will Mudiay's success or failure set a new trend? It is too early to tell, but what little data we have suggests that we haven't yet reached a point where heading overseas is something that we should expect to be common.
Should the NBA change the current one-and-done rule to a two-year requirement, then this could become a different discussion. For now, though, Mudiay will likely be an exception to the norm rather than a trailblazer.
Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.