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Emmanuel Mudiay, top PG in 2014, picks SMU over Kentucky

Aug 24, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT

It actually happened.

Emmanuel Mudiay — a top three player nationally and either the best or the second best point guard in the country, depending on how you view Tyus Jones — picked SMU.

Over Kentucky.

Let me say that again in case you didn’t hear me correctly the first time: the No. 3 player in the country, per Rivals, picked SMU — a program that hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since three years before Mudiay was born and whose national relevance is solely tied to their decision to hire the 73 year old Larry Brown — over Kentucky.


Over Kentucky!

I still can’t believe it, but at this point it’s reality. And, it goes without saying, that reality may be the most important thing that’s ever happened to SMU basketball. Let’s ignore the obvious, that Mudiay, an athletic, 6-foot-4 lead guard that’s talented enough to spend just one year in college, will make SMU a contender for an NCAA tournament berth in the then Louisville-less AAC. The state of Texas, which is typically known for their high school football, has become one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country.

SMU is irrelevant in basketball. But before Scott Drew took over in the post-Dave Bliss days, Baylor was largely irrelevant as well. It took some time, but as Drew started landing some higher-profile players from the area — Henry Dugat, Curtis Jerrells and Kevin Rogers turned into Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones which led to the likes of Perry Jones and Isaiah Austin, among many other four and five-star from outside the Lone Star State — the Bears turned into a program that produces lottery picks and has made two Elite Eights in the last four years.

Considering where Baylor was a decade ago, that’s astounding.


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Point being, you don’t have to be a relevant basketball program to find success in Texas if you can tap into the talent in the area.

And while Mudiay alone isn’t going to make SMU a regional or national power, he could be the guy that makes it ‘cool’ to go to SMU. Does his commitment get Myles Turner to rethink eliminating SMU? Will Elijah Thomas, Mudiay’s teammate at Prime Prep, factor SMU more heavily into his recruitment?

Who knows how long Larry Brown will be around — and who knows if Mudiay will even get eligible, given what’s going on at Prime Prep — but there’s no question that his commitment is a massive positive for the Mustangs.

But what about the Wildcats?

What will Kentucky do about their point guard situation?

The general consensus seems to be that the Harrison twins are going to be heading to the NBA after this season regardless of how they play. Tyus Jones has yet to make a decision about where he’ll be going to college, but popular opinion seems to have him heading to Duke. That means that in a class where two of the top three recruits are point guards, neither picked Kentucky and Coach Cal.

It would be silly to read into that any more than a kid from Dallas wanting to be close to home and a kid from Minnesota liking the academic side of playing at Duke, but it does create a bit of a conundrum for the Wildcats. A quality point guard is incredibly important to Kentucky’s offense, as evidenced by last year’s first round NIT exit.

So who can they get?

Well, of the uncommitted lead guards in 2014, Jordan McLaughlin is a Cali kid that doesn’t hold an offer from UK. Quentin Snider is from Louisville and was committed to be a Cardinal until last month. Josh Perkins waited all summer for an offer from Coach Cal and never got it. This week, however, Kentucky did offer Tyler Ulis a scholarship.

Ulis is small, but he’s tough, both physically and mentally. He’s an excellent creator off the bounce and really understands how to run a team. He’s not exactly a sharp-shooter, but he can hit a three when he’s left open.

I love Ulis. I love the way he plays. He’s not John Wall, but if Kentucky can surround him with talented big men and perimeter scorers, he’s the kind of leader that can distribute the ball and run that team.

And if that’s who Kentucky has to “settle” for, that’s not a bad spot to be in.

  1. prov1x - Aug 24, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    LOL. Cal’s check didn’t clear.

  2. justineet - Aug 24, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    What kind of journalism do we have this days? It’s ridiculous….SMU was not relevant it’s true….but it is now. Why does this author want to still insist SMU is not relevant now…the journalism profession in the USA is truly pathetic….it’s a miracle these media houses are not bankrupted yet.

  3. saint1997 - Aug 25, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    How do you think he would mesh with Keith Frazier?

  4. senorpapino - Aug 25, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Larry Brown is criminally underrated as a coach.

    Beat Coach K in the Final Four en route to National Championship
    Beat Phil Jackson 4-1 in the NBA Finals

    To beat the two greatest coaching minds on the way to being the only champion at both levels tells you all you need to know about Larry Brown. Maybe Mudiay wants to learn from one of the greatest coaches of all time and be the centerpiece of a program, neither of which he would get at UK.

    • kingghidora - Aug 25, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      I think you meant to say “overrated” didn’t you? Brown backed into his title at Kansas winning by default pretty much. No one else seemed to want the thing. Manning was good. No one else in the top tier of the game was all that good. Steve Kerr was about as good as it got that year. It was a weak year and Brown got lucky.

      Brown has “never” built a true top quality team. He’s 73 and he has a bad habit of changing teams in mid-season. If he was really good he’d still be coaching in the NBA. Just look at his winning percentages. That should tell you a lot.

      Everyone has the right to be wrong and Mudiay exercised that right with this pick. I feel sorry for the kid. Someone should have told him what a mistake he was making. Brown is “not” going to help him make the pros. He’ll be lucky to make the tournament even. You can’t get noticed on the big stage if you aren’t there. A pg needs someone to pass the ball to. Where is the talent to catch his passes at SMU?

      I’m not worried about UK. They have two quality PG’s on the team this year. Backing up Harrison is KY phenom, Dominique Hawkins. He will back to play the point and the word is he is much better than the ratings people have given him credit for being. People say he holds his own with the Harrisons. And the only reason people say Jones is a Duke lean is that AAU coach that shot off his mouth only to be put in his place by Jones’ running buddy, Jahlil Okafor. Both could end up at UK for all this reporter knows. They clearly said their minds weren’t made up at all. So give up the wishful thinking. Maybe they will go to Duke. Maybe they won’t. And Ulis is said to be a great player too. UK is not worried. They are set with Hawkins no matter what (barring injury of course). No way he leaves UK. He’s a home state kid who grew up dreaming of wearing the blue and white. Expect him to be the leader next year if Jones doesn’t sign.

  5. florida727 - Aug 25, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    I guess this would be an easy time to take shots at Calipari, or Kentucky, or whatever, But in the end, all you Kentucky haters still can’t count to EIGHT, as in the number of national championships they have in basketball. As a Florida fan, I know I’m jealous. Yeah, we joke about having two bye weeks during the football season, the one in October, and the one the week we go to Lexington, but there’s no questioning their bragging rights on the hardwood. When they’re not playing the Gators, I know I enjoy watching them. They’ve got a tradition that’s the envy of just about everyone this side of UCLA.

    • kingghidora - Aug 25, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      Hey florida727. UCLA got their titles the old fashioned way – they bought them. UK tradition is better than any other. Sure the media doesn’t want to talk about Sam Gilbert and the endless perks he provided UCLA players during the Wooden era. And they don’t want to talk about the fact that Cal could bring UK back up to even in titles with UCLA the way he’s going. It’s not that far from 8 to 11. Just 3 more and UK is back in the lead for most titles (yes they will be tied with UCLA at that point but that still means UK is leading along with UCLA). It could happen easy the way things are going in Lexington. UK nearly won 3 in a row in the 1990’s. They were tied at the end of regulation in the 1997 title game. One more point would have given them that title to go with the titles in 1996 and 1998. Cal could easily put UK even with UCLA.

  6. ebrownwareagle - Aug 25, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    At What Price?! Lol! Get Your Money Buddy!

    • kingghidora - Aug 25, 2013 at 11:51 PM

      ebrownwareagle – Are you talking about UCLA winning more titles or SMU buying a basketball team. They got caught buying a football team after all. They got the death penalty for it too. I know you hater types want Cal to be in that category but you’re going to be waiting a very long time for that.

  7. uk2ndbestinthestate - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    I’m really sorry Dauster, I know you must be devastated since you’re a huge sUcK homer. Wonderful job of turning a kid’s commitment into a story about UK…I can’t read anything you write anymore, it’s an embarrassment to good journalism everywhere.

  8. uk2ndbestinthestate - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Thank you Emmanuel for not taking the money at UK, I’m rooting for you this year.

  9. bo1210 - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    uk2ndbestinthestate <– Is UK in your head that badly?

  10. uk2ndbestinthestate - Aug 26, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    No but that reigning national championship is.

  11. prov1x - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    Laughable about UCLA “buying” titles, considering UK is the most penalized program in history. Point shaving, FedEx cash, Eddie Sutton DUI cover ups, you guys have no room to accuse ANYONE of wrongdoing in their past. Your arrogance is amusing, I was waiting for one if you clowns to talk about what a “mistake” this kid was making by not going to UK. Maybe the kid wanted to stay close to home and be the centerpiece of an SMU revival instead of being a part if the Calapari circus.

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