UK target Mudiay says he'll play at SMU

broberts@herald-leader.comAugust 24, 2013 

BEHRING

When John Calipari finds a point guard he likes on the recruiting trail, that player usually ends up in Kentucky blue.

Calipari got what he wanted with John Wall, Brandon Knight, Marquis Teague and Andrew Harrison.

Emmanuel Mudiay was supposed to be the next name on that list.

"Not everything goes as it's supposed to go," recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer told the Herald-Leader.

Mudiay — considered by many to be the No. 1 point guard in the Class of 2014 — committed to Southern Methodist on Saturday.

"I knew this is where my heart was at, and I prayed about it and so this is what I wanted to do," Mudiay said at halftime of the nationally televised Elite 24 game.

The 6-foot-4 prospect from the Dallas area went with the hometown school over Kentucky, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor.

UK was long considered the favorite for Mudiay, but he never visited Lexington. He had been scheduled for an official visit to attend Big Blue Madness on Oct. 18.

Meyer, the national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, listed Mudiay as the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2014 when he updated his rankings this month.

Meyer — and just about everyone else — had been predicting Mudiay would end up at UK. He changed that pick to SMU on Friday night.

"There was the thought that the success that John Calipari has had with recruiting the top point guards and the success those point guards have had playing under him, it just seemed like in the end that would win out for Emmanuel," Meyer said. "And that's pretty much why everyone had him pegged for Kentucky. But, obviously that shifted."

For Mudiay, there was a lot to like about SMU.

The Mustangs are headed into their second season under Hall of Famer Larry Brown, who remains the only coach to win an NBA and NCAA championship.

Mudiay spoke glowingly of his future coach throughout his recruitment.

"He's a Hall of Fame coach, he's coached Hall of Fame players, and one day I want to be able to play in the NBA," he said Saturday. "He's coached at the highest level, so I can learn a lot from him. ... I've got real respect for him."

Brown gave Calipari his first big break when he hired the 24-year-old to be an assistant coach at Kansas in 1983. When Calipari was fired by the New Jersey Nets almost two decades later, Brown gave him a job on his coaching staff with the Philadelphia 76ers.

"How do you recruit against Larry Brown? Coach Cal's in a tough spot, because he has ultimate respect for Larry Brown," Meyer said. "It's not like you can negative recruit against him as a coach."

Another positive for SMU is its close proximity to Mudiay's home. The school is a short drive for the point guard and his family — so short that he's already visited the campus several times.

"I think there's always been that notion with Emmanuel that he's not really going to be enticed by the bright lights," Meyer said. "Maybe more of a homebody type — more comfortable staying close to home.

"(SMU is) his home school, and he can play for a Hall of Fame coach in Larry Brown. I think at the end of the day he's thinking, 'Hey, I can get just as good here — as far as improving my game and pursuing my NBA dream — as I can at Kentucky. And I don't have to move.'"

Mudiay wasn't the only high-profile point guard from the Class of 2014 to announce his college decision Saturday.

Hours earlier, Josh Perkins said he was committing to Gonzaga. Perkins — a Colorado native who will play his senior season at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep — is considered by Scout.com to be the No. 25 overall prospect in the class.

UK called to express interest in Perkins this summer, and the 6-2 prospect and his father spoke highly of Calipari and his coaching staff throughout the process.

But Perkins never received an offer from the Wildcats, stuck to his plan of making a commitment before the school year began, and chose Gonzaga over UCLA and Minnesota.

There are now two uncommitted point guards in the Class of 2014 with scholarship offers from Kentucky: Tyus Jones and Tyler Ulis.

Jones is considered a top-five overall prospect, but Duke is widely seen as the leader in his recruitment. He will take an official visit to UK on Sept. 27.

Ulis — a 5-8 prospect from the Chicago area — is ranked No. 29 overall by Scout.com and No. 52 by 247Sports. He was in Lexington for an unofficial visit this month and will return for his official visit Sept. 9, which is the date of the UK Alumni Game.

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service