Scouting doesn't boil down only to evaluating players' talent; it's when you see them.
Emmanuel Mudiay served up an effective reminder on Saturday night. The elite guard had been sensational on Friday night at the Mustang Madness event, but a long day of travel from Kentucky to North Carolina led to a somewhat lackluster performance from Mudiay and Prime Prep the following evening.
Mudiay was outplayed by UNC-bound wing Theo Pinson and didn't place an imprint on the game as he had on Friday, yet he still compiled an impressive statline and led his squad to the finish line a winner. That's who and what Mudiay is: A sometimes uninspiring blue-chipper who, even on his bad days, finds a way to produce.
His line versus Wesleyan Christian included 24 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and four turnovers, including 8-17 from the field. He actually shot the ball fine from deep — 3-7 on threes, including a late dagger — but didn't finish as well as he typically does on the move.
And yet, I've always taken away the impression that he's capable of so much more. Mudiay can be a listless floor general who for lengthy stretches fails to pressure a defense, but then whips a precision pass to a teammate for a layup. Or, after languishing on the perimeter and dribbling without purposes, slices into the defense and creates a high percentage shot out of nothing. Smoothing out the rough edges will fall to Larry Brown next season and likely the pros thereafter, but there's simply no denying that his 'on' switch provides a stirring jolt. That's what warrants patience while he develops into his ultimate position.
Additionally, he's a far superior defender to most high school guards. He and Pinson had some remarkable exchanges on that end, as both are among the top defensive players in the senior class. Mudiay is a tall and lean guard who possesses the quick feet of a much smaller and wispier man. Down the road, defense projects as a catalyst for the remainder of his game.
Then there's his jump shot. Mudiay typically alternates between scorching hot and liquid nitrogen cold, but in his game he was fairly steady. He seems to shoot better with more time for his admittedly slower release, and thus shot selection will be critical.
When he attempts to shoot off the dribble or when contested, his accuracy ebbs. But when he has earned defenses' respect as a penetrator, he frequently enjoys all the time he wants from deep. Improving both his stroke and his shot selection stand as top priorities going forward.
All in all, there's not too much to add on a long-established prep All-American. Mudiay's physical tools should make him an immediate impact player for the Mustangs, and he could become one of the country's top freshmen in 2014-15.