For most of last year, John Calipari was in dogged pursuit of point guard Emmanuel Mudiay and there was a real feeling that Cal did not get his man when Mudiay committed to SMU and Larry Brown. Mudiay was arguably the best PG in the 2014 class and it was rare to see Calipari not get a PG that he was focused on. Mudiay picking SMU over Kentucky was shocking and brought immediate credibility and relevance to a SMU program that Larry Brown was resurrecting. Then two weeks ago, Mudiay again shocked the college basketball world by bolting to China. And as happens, there is buzz that this could be the start of a trend and that other top recruits, including Kentucky recruit Skal Labissiere could follow Mudiay overseas and eschew college basketball.
For the record, the official Mudiay line is that he went to overseas to help his family and he has signed a 1.2M deal with the Guangdong Dragons. Despite the assertion that helping his family was the main reason he left, the buzz persists that Mudiay left because he was too worried about his academic eligibility and amateur standing. Adam Zagoria reported yesterday that Mudiay had been cleared academically by the NCAA clearinghouse so you can take that for what it is. His amateur status is still to be determined, but it really doesn’t matter. Mudiay is not coming back.
And the question arises as to whether Mudiay is going to be a trendsetter for the players in the 2015 and 2016 class. There was the same fear when Brandon Jennings did this years ago, but at least this seems to be more of a valid concern this time around. Much has been made of the fact that John Calipari is casting a large net for these classes and as of this writing, a whopping 22 players have Kentucky offers.
Does John Calipari sense this trend or does he know something that the other coaches do not?