Marquee draft prospect Emmanuel Mudiay plans to stay in China all season, as he and his family have told Chinese media, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress (Twitter link). The point guard recently took part in his first full team practice with China’s Guangdong Southern Tigers after suffering a sprained ankle in November, Givony also tweets. It appeared a month ago that Mudiay was on his way out as the team signed Will Bynum, ostensibly to serve as his replacement. Now, Mudiay says he’s in no hurry to leave China, and the team has no reason to cut him, since the Tigers have to pay his $1.2MM salary either way, Givony notes (on Twitter).
Bynum joined the team on a temporary basis, as the club was to decide whether to keep him based on Mudiay’s recovery and Bynum’s performance. The Tigers are 14-0 since Bynum began playing for them, Givony points out (Twitter link), and the former Pistons point guard is averaging 19.7 points and 6.7 assists per contest. Mudiay hadn’t been making as much progress with the ankle as the team would have liked when Bynum came on board, and there was disagreement over his timetable for a return. Now that Mudiay is practicing again, the team faces a tough decision, since Chinese Basketball Association clubs can only suit up two healthy Americans, and Guangdong employs former Texas A&M Corpus-Christi center Chris Daniels as its starting pivotman.
Mudiay is the No. 2 prospect in the rankings of both Givony and Chad Ford of ESPN.com, and he’s No. 3 in the Hoops Rumors Draft Prospect Power Rankings that our Eddie Scarito compiles. The 18-year-old signed in China after deciding against attending SMU for what would have been his freshman season this year. He put up 17.7 PPG and 5.9 APG while also averaging 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 turnovers in 30.0 minutes per game in his 10 contests with the Tigers before the injury. The ankle injury kept some NBA teams from getting an in-person look at him this year, but that appears poised to change.