When Emmanuel Mudiay up and left to play pro ball in China this season, there was all sorts of speculation as to why he didn't play for coach Larry Brown at SMU. It doesn't matter now, as Mudiay's season in the Chinese Basketball Association is over and he's on his way back to the U.S. to get ready for the NBA draft.
Mudiay, who turns 19 on March 5, posted impressive numbers in China -- averaging 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field in 12 CBA games -- but his playing time was restricted by an ankle injury and midseason benching (former NBA player Will Bynum took over lead duties of his team, the Guangdong Southern Tigers, in mid-December, though Mudiay did play well in a couple of recent playoff appearances).
As a result of his shortened season, few scouts were able to get an in-depth read on his game and development. However, we spoke to several players in December who saw Mudiay up close in China, including teammates and opponents, to get their take on his skill set, strengths and weaknesses. (Note this was earlier in the season, prior to Mudiay's injury.)
No one spent more time with Mudiay this season than former Texas A&M-Corpus Christi big man Chris Daniels. The 30-year-old has spent much of his time bouncing around overseas and said he considers Mudiay a little brother, someone he helped adjust to professional basketball.