NBA draft candidates sometimes go to extremes to impress prospective teams, telling them the extent to which they’ll go to succeed and win as a professional. Sometimes, they even propose to run over ol’ Grandma to get there, if needed.
Big, physical point guard Emmanuel Mudiay takes it to another level.
“I love to win, I’m a competitor, regardless of who I’m playing,” he said. “Whether it’s a grown man or a 5-year-old, I always want to win.”
NBA teams have spent great time and expense to learn all they can about an intriguing player who was born in Zaire (present-day Congo) as civil war brewed and raised in Dallas after his father died. His mother established a life in the United States before she brought her three sons to asylum and safety. He played last season in China for $1 million so he could help his family financially and turned down a chance to play at SMU for Larry Brown, a coach who knows something about developing point guards.
Brown still is getting over a missed opportunity to turn Mudiay into a college star and his unsung program into a national contender.
“It’s tough but at the same time he still helps me to this day,” Mudiay said. “Anything I need to learn, he can still do. He still teaches me. We’re on the phone. I can just go up there and watch film with him anytime.”
Still something of a mystery while some of his peers now are well-known after only one season on spent beautiful college campuses, Mudiay calls himself a better player and more mature person after a journey across the world in which he lived with his mother and rode his bicycle to practice through the streets of bustling Guangdong.
“When you’re playing with grown men, they’re trying to feed their families,” he said after a workout in Los Angeles earlier this month. “It’s a professional league, so I feel it really did help me coming back here.”
He missed three months of the Chinese season because of a sprained ankle, then returned to play against Stephon Marbury in two playoff games.
Strong, fast and 6-5, Mudiay reminds some coaches and NBA scouts of John Wall; others mention Jason Kidd. He’s considered a mature 19-year-old from a good family and is considered a top-five pick on draft night.
In other words, NBA teams seem comfortable with his skills and character, developed along an untraditional route.