During the entire 2013 NCAA basketball season, whenever experts talked about SMU’s sudden rise under Larry Brown, they talked about what 2014 would look like. Ranked at various points throughout the season last year, SMU was somewhat shockingly snubbed from the tournament due to a weak non-conference schedule. But that didn’t matter because in 2014 they were bringing in top five recruit Emmanuel Mudiay.
What? A top five recruit in the ENTIRE COUNTRY picked SMU? OVER KENTUCKY?!?
Larry Brown was doing things in in SMU that had never been done. Basketball was relevant and with Mudiay, even as a one-and-done, SMU had a chance to maybe the reach the Final 4. That was the grand hope at least. And who’s to say it was unrealistic? I mean, if Mudiay really was as good as people said he was–a future NBA lottery pick–then making a very deep run in the tournament seemed entirely plausible. They were certainly going to be in everyone’s preseason top 25.
But today, it came out that Mudiay will spend next season, not in Dallas, but somewhere overseas playing professionally. Details surrounding the decision are a little unclear. Some sources close to Mudiay claim the decision is not due to lacking academics, but rather, it’s a financial and family-based decision. Having moved to Dallas at a young age from the Congo, that reason makes sense. But unfortunately, there have also been reports that he may have, in fact, had trouble remaining eligible academically; and that his amateur status would have been in question.
We’ll likely find out what happened in the next few days. Losing Mudiay is a huge blow to SMU next season, as well as the entire college basketball world. Mudiay will have to follow in Brandon Jennings’ footsteps, and that is no easy task. It’s too bad we won’t get to see Mudiay in action this season, but if Larry Brown is right, then it won’t be long before we see him again.