NEW YORK -- Southern Methodist coach Larry Brown is concerned Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to skip college and pursue a professional contract could become a trend.
Mudiay signed a one-year deal reportedly worth $1.2 million this summer with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. In a statement given through his brother, Stephane, to SI.com’s Luke Winn, Mudiay explained that he was “tired of seeing my mom struggle” and that “This has nothing to do with my eligibility in any way.”
Stephane also refuted a later report regarding uncertainty over Mudiay’s amateur status.
The 6-foot-5 point guard, who chose SMU over scholarship offers from Kentucky and Kansas, among other programs according to Rivals.com, was considered one of the top players in the freshman class of 2014 and is projected as a top-five pick in 2015 mock drafts. Other recent players who decided to play professionally in lieu of attending college include big man Jeremy Tyler, who signed a contract with a Chinese team after the Lakers waived him earlier this month, and Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings.
Brown, speaking at American Athletic Conference media day on Wednesday, said he’s excited for Mudiay but not for the “precedent it might set.” The Hall of Fame Coach added that he thinks Mudiay could cause other players to overlook those who elected to go pro early but never found consistent success.
“I think it will get worse,” Brown said. “If he’s as good as I know he is – and he’s the first, second or third pick in the draft, which I’m pretty confident he will be -- I’m worried that a lot of kids will think about it.”
Brown mentioned players who have become “failures” in the NBA and discussed the benefits of learning under seasoned college coaches such as Kansas’ Bill Self and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
“When you can play for some of these great college coaches for four years, your second contract might not come as quickly, but you’re going to be more prepared when it comes.” Brown said.
Brown also addressed recent remarks by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggesting some players are better off entering the NBA’s Development League than college.
“I saw he said [that] kids should go to the D-League -- they’d be better off,” Brown said. “Well if they fail in the D-League, what do they have? If they go to college and don’t make it, they got a degree. And there’s nobody who can tell me that the caliber of coach in the D-League is comparable to the caliber of coach in college.
“That’s not heresy. They got skill coaches in the D-League, we got basketball coaches in college. They got developmental coaches in the pros, they got college coaches and teachers in college. So, I don’t get it and I’m troubled by it.”
As a solution, Brown floated the system in place for baseball, whereby players can be drafted and return to school for multiple years. “Maybe draft them out of high school and then keep their rights and put a fund in there,” Brown said.
Brown is entering his third season at SMU. The Mustangs, which went 27-10 and reached the championship game of the NIT last year, were picked second, behind UConn, in the AAC’s preseason coaches poll.