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High school standout Emmanuel Mudiay skips college for China payday. You’ll see more of this if age limit goes up.

Jul 22, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (as a proxy for the owners) has made getting the NBA age limit raised from 19 to 20 a priority. He’ll likely get it at some point, the only question is what the owners give back to the players in negotiations to make it happen.

But that action will have a reaction from some players.

Tuesday Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported the No. 2 recruit in the class just entering college, Emmanuel Mudiay, will be headed to China for a one-year, $1.2 million deal.

Mudiay, a 6-foot-5 guard, is considered a lottery pick in the Class of 2015… Mudiay has also taken out insurance policies to protect him in China against injury that could impact his future earnings, a source said.

Mudiay had been headed to Larry Brown and SMU in a year before choosing to get paid. He’s a shoot first point guard who can score, is big and athletic, and would have lifted SMU into the top 15 in the nation, according to Rob Dauster of

This is an experiment by Mudiay — a lot of veteran players who sign in China can’t stick because the culture change is so dramatic. There are high drop out rates, not everybody’s personality is such it handles that much change well. It’s also a gamble by the Chinese league and if this works out they may approach other potential college players in the future.

If the age limit goes up, expect to see more of this, or moves like it. The fact is college is not for everyone and should not be the only path available for top players

Most high schoolers on a path to be drafted will still choose two years of UCLA or Kentucky or wherever (certainly the longer stay is good for college coaches and that model as well). But more and more will look at their options for getting paid.

Teams from Europe, knowing they can get a player for two years, may be more willing to take a gamble on a talented young player and pay him. Same with China. In both cases it will take a mature, special personality to make it work but teams will look at options. Some players will choose the money and, in many cases, better player development overseas.

Another option will be the D-League — P.J. Hairston went this route this year, playing in Texas once he was forced out at North Carolina, and he stayed in the first round despite his off the court issues (he played well in the D-League then suddenly had issues after the draft). That doesn’t pay nearly as well as most overseas teams but it is some money and a chance to develop against bigger, stronger professional players that could benefit a lot of players.

Sonny Vaccaro has advocated more high schoolers heading overseas for years. Like college, it’s not for everyone — it’s a very different environment, overseas is a lot more practice and fewer games.

But for some players it is a legitimate option, and if the other choice is two years of college more and more players will choose getting paid.

  1. angulocarlos1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:09 PM


    • casualcommenter - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      Given a choice between playing for 1 year’s free college tuition ($40,000) versus playing for $1+ million, you apparently think the smarter choice is to play for free…

      Okay then.

      • casualcommenter - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        Even if pretend these elite prospects were likely to stay in college for 4 years, a 4-year college scholarship is worth around $160k at a private university, and even less at a state school.

        Basic math dictates it’s better to earn a guaranteed $1 million right away, then use less than $200k of that on a college degree later in life than forfeit that $1 million guaranteed in exchange for a maximum of $160k if you choose to spend 4 years in college.

        Given that most of these guys stay in college for 2 years at most, it’s a choice between a 2 year $80k scholarship or a 1 year, $1 million payday.

        Like I said, basic math.

    • loubearkane - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      You know his financial situation? His mother’s?

      • campcouch - Jul 22, 2014 at 7:46 PM

        I know,even without having hardship,this is a smart business move. Get paid and trained!

  2. spursareold - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Yeah, because this worked SO well for Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler…

    • casualcommenter - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      Jennings earned $3+ million in combined salary and endorsements by playing in Europe for 1 year before declaring for the NBA draft and still being selected 10th overall.

      There’s no guarantee that playing in college for 1 token year either would have boosted his draft stock much higher than being drafted 10th overall or would have dramatically improved his weaknesses compared to playing abroad. American college basketball programs produce plenty of flawed 1-and-done prospects.

      So in the end, it did work out reasonably well for Jennings. He guaranteed himself a $3 million payday right after he finished high school, and he still got drafted top 10 overall.

      • borderline1988 - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        The one argument against that is playing in college means you are playing against weaker (or at least younger) competition.

        Going overseas, you have to play against grown men. 18 year olds are probably less likely to shine overseas than in college.

        That being said, it’s hard to give up $1 million, especially if you’re insuring yourself anyways.

      • spursareold - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        So what? Jennings is about half the player he would have been with only one good D1 season and some good coaching.

      • rehabguy - Jul 22, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        AND…The Under Armor Contract was prior to the NBA also…Go to college or buy a college?

    • cruzan80 - Jul 22, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      @ spursareold

      You clearly don’t get it…

      His family is BROKE & he has an opportunity to provide for them NOW. Its really just that simple.

      Jennings (who had millions before he played a minute in the NBA) had one of the best quotes I ever heard when Bryant Gumble interviewed him while he was still over seas when he asked him how much he hated the food there.

      When Gumble asked “Its pretty bad huh? ”

      Jennings replied, “Yeah, but it could be worse…I could be in college.”.

      • tomasekradek - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:44 AM

        Food? He takes that, lets say smart, move in his career to play ball in Italy and he complains about food? I don’t get it. It’s like food Mecca. If there is one good thing about Italy, it’s their food.

    • 6thsense10 - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:04 PM


      You have 0 clue if Jennings would have developed better if he went to 1 season of college ball. Stop lying to yourself. Secondly the coaching over seas is much more intense and team oriented than college basketball and I’m in the train of thought that if you’re working 40+ hours a week as pro overseas it is better than 20 hours a week here as a …ahem “student-athlete”.

      Secondly to see the number of one and cones that went to college but still take another 2 or 3 seasons to get basic fundamentals down blows a hole to your theory.

    • realfootballfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:53 PM

      Brandon Jennings was nearly the R.O.Y. Any problems he’s had are his own doing, not because he didn’t go to college, lol. Yea, Coach K or Calipari would have “fixed” him before he got to the league. Gimme a break.

  3. dacapt704 - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Imagine that…having to leave America for China to take advantage of capitalism….who’d have thunk it?

    Good luck young man, he should be allowed to employ his skills and earn a living in a marketplace that desires his skills…age limit is garbage (IMO) and spare me about how a private corp can do what they want….bc we know its all about helping the NCAA capitalize

    • casualcommenter - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      Agreed. Other sports like soccer and baseball don’t impose such strict age limits.

      Likewise, while a 3 or 4 year college experience does help most kids mature into adults, token 1-and-done stays in college by basketball prospects, during which these players spend as much time focusing on basketball and relatively little time focusing on academics, doesn’t do much for the kids’ personal benefit.

      It’s all about preserving the talent pool for the NCAA.

      • mackcarrington - Jul 22, 2014 at 3:49 PM

        Agreed. But soccer and baseball aren’t revenue producers for colleges. If they were, you’d probably see an attempt to make them spend time in college also.

      • realfootballfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:00 PM

        Yep. Most of the one and dones literally are on campus half of a semester. It’s silliness at the height of silliness. Why force them to go through this charade because some GMs who were bad at their jobs needed to be saved from themselves? Those same bad GMs will still draft the same bad players when they’re 2, 3, or 4 years out of high school because they don’t know what they are doing. You’re telling me if LeBron James had been in college, he’d be a better player? Dude dropped 25 his first night in the NBA. This serves no purpose.

    • phillyguyindc - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      I also think it is about having a more finished product enter the league.

      • rehabguy - Jul 22, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        For the game of basketball yes…for these individuals no.

    • realfootballfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:56 PM

      Excellent point. I love how some hypocrites champion capitalism and free enterprise until they don’t. At least be consistent. If some of these men make the wrong choice, that’s on them. When we were all that age, we had choices to make of whether to go to college, get a job immediatly, get married immediately, etc. Why should it be any different for them because some GMs don’t know how to pick players. It was a weak rule implemented to save the bad GMs from themselves.

  4. bealwithit - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    $1.2 million or the experience of college for a year?

    I think most top high school players should do this. Having $1.2 million in the bank with insurance in case of an injury is a better option for a lot of these kids than going to college for a year. This is more like a professional internship to show your future employer (the NBA) what you can do.

    If they want an education, college will always be an option later in life. $1.2 million won’t.

    • thecorduroyman - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      For once, it would be nice if they stopped pretending that the age limit was to promote education. College isn’t for everyone. And it certainly is not for everyone when you are 18. I think you are exactly right in that a 1.2 million dollar offer won’t always be the table. But you can always go back to school when you are older. Imagine if on graduation day, someone offered you one million dollars to be a waiter at a restaurant for a year. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind putting off school.

  5. floreskins - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Looks like there are going be substantially more “free meal plans”…

  6. aldavisfortytime - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    I don’t disagree with this decision at all.

    It just goes to show how terrible the NCAA really is though.

  7. tjr324 - Jul 22, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    It seems the main reason for Mudiay’s decision to play overseas this year has to do with his amateur eligibility being questioned by the NCAA. So it very well could have been a decision between playing overseas and getting paid or potentially being ruled ineligible by the NCAA and not playing at all. The decision for Mudiay isn’t that hard considering these circumstances. So the author’s whole spiel about age limits doesn’t really apply in this situation. Minimal research/reading of more reputable sources by the author would have made this readily apparent.

    • spursareold - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      If his amateur status is cloudy, then he has to go.

  8. bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Can someone explain why Silver wants to raise the age limit? Just let em play if they’re good enough. I don’t see any point in holding off it off when these kids aren’t going to finish college regardless, they’re headed for the draft as soon as they’re eligible.

    • spursareold - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      The problem is that all but a few are NOT good enough. The NBA is tired of being their own D-League, and wants a more finished product, and direct HS or 1AndDone aren’t providing it.

      • psubeerman21 - Jul 22, 2014 at 3:42 PM

        If they want a better product, don’t rely on the NCAA to do it. The NCAA cares only about the NCAA. Bring the kids in at 18, pay them good money, and if they aren’t ready have them play in the d-league for a year or two, where YOU can develop them.

      • skoivu10 - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:08 PM

        The NBA d-League should work exactly like the AHL to the NHL. You draft these kids at 18, stick em in the minors for a year or two and let them gradually transition into the NBA. Only the top of the top ever jump the Top League after the draft. The vast majority stay in the minors until they are seasoned. That way the teams that draft these kids know what they are getting and can condition them accordingly.

  9. jcrileyesq - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Also I want Silver and the NBA to explain the reasoning behind a foreign players having the right to enter the draft earlier the U.S. players

    • skoivu10 - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      Because it doesn’t affect the NCAA at all. Those guys just play professionally in Europe, so they wouldn’t even think of going to an American college to play. That’s what the age limit is all about. They only want to raise it because all the basketball colleges are getting upset at the 1 and done thing.

    • tomasekradek - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:55 AM

      Top prospects in Europe, those who eventually enter NBA draft are often getting paid since about age of 16. They are playing 2-3 years professionally entering the draft even if they are 19.

  10. cruzan80 - Jul 22, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    Good for him.

    Best of luck young man.

  11. bux1022 - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    Get your money! Screw the corrupt NCAA!

  12. sumkat - Jul 22, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    “college is not for everyone”

    Are we pretending that these top recruits have an experience anything like the rest of the world when they go to interview for the nba? I man when they go to college

  13. 00maltliquor - Jul 22, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    This is good. I hope more top kids do this to force Silver to not raise the limit.

  14. realfootballfan - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    It’s definitely what I’d do or advise a son to do if he was in that position. You’re trying to become a professional basketball player, so might as well go get paid and do it with professionals until you’re eligible for the draft just like the European players.

  15. lawson1974 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    . I want the age limit to go up AND I want those that dont really want to go to college to go play overseas or in the D League.

    I think this story is great.

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