Making the case for being the No. 1 pick: Emmanuel Mudiay

Note: This is the third piece in a series of features making a case for each top prospect as the No. 1 pick. Last week I made the case for Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell. Today we discuss Emmanuel Mudiay. I took an initial look at Mudiay's season in China here. Today we go in depth on what has been happening since he returned to the U.S. in March.

LOS ANGELES -- In a world of draft stock and hype, Emmanuel Mudiay is invisible.

Out of sight. Out of mind.

That's what happens when you spend the year playing 12 games in China, most of them far away from the view of NBA scouts, and even farther away from NBA decision-makers like general managers, coaches and owners. Mudiay hasn't played a game of 5-on-5 since early March. He skipped the draft combine, leaving NBA folks even more frustrated. No physicals. No interviews. Nothing.

After I tweeted I was at the 360 Gym in Reseda on Friday to watch Mudiay work out, my phone began buzzing with texts and phone calls from all over the NBA. I was one of the first people outside Mudiay's inner circle to see him play basketball in months.

Everyone had the same question. How did he look?

The answer? Better than he looked in practices and games at the Nike Hoop Summit in April 2014, when a number of GMs had him pegged as a top-two prospect in the NBA draft.

So good, in fact, that I have no doubt had he stayed at SMU and played for Larry Brown instead of heading to China, he'd be No. 2 (where he debuted on Big Board 1.0) right now, just weeks from the draft.