Mudiay has major NBA potential

The most recent occasion college and NBA basketball fans saw Emmanuel Mudiay play was in April 2014, when he was competing for the World Team at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon. The anticipation then was that he would lead coach Larry Brown's SMU Mustangs back to the NCAA tournament this season as a freshman before heading to the NBA.

But last summer, the 6-foot-5 point guard decided to forgo college basketball, and he signed a professional contract with the Guangdong Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. The idea was to use his season in China to prepare for June's NBA draft. While a mild risk, it showed a lot of maturity for an 18-year-old.

Chinese professional basketball is quite an adjustment, even for a 10-year NBA veteran. The uniquely different culture, the distance from home, and the wacky nature of the CBA and its players, coaches, owners and rules are not easy to master.

The one-year plan, however, went awry when Mudiay injured his ankle in December, and he did not play in a game again until Sunday. With Guangdong trailing two games to none in its CBA semifinal playoff series with Beijing, Mudiay re-emerged and helped the Tigers to a 110-99 win, scoring 24 points and grabbing eight rebounds. His season ended with a 5-for-14 shooting performance and six turnovers in a loss on Tuesday.

Regardless of how little Mudiay played this season, he is still likely to be a high lottery pick. And even though he is now healthy enough to work out for NBA teams in the spring, he will remain an international man of mystery until he steps on an NBA court in a summer league in Las Vegas or Orlando.