Scout: How did you think the overall experience played out for you?
Emmnauel Mudiay: At first it was a bit challenging just because it was a foreign country and not everybody spoke the same language. I had to get used to talking through the translator instead of directly with my coach. That was different. Basketball was the easy part. That was the universal language. When you play, you play. Just adapting to the culture was probably the toughest thing Was it difficult communicating with your teammates?
My teammates spoke English. Basketball made it easier for me. When we were talking about random things, then no, they didn’t speak good English. When basketball was the topic there was enough to understand what they were saying. Who all went with you?
It was me, my brother, my cousin and my mom. Was it beneficial for you having them with you every step of the way?
Yeah. Jeremy Tyler was the first one to ever do it—I actually ended up playing against him—and he talked to me about it. He said that’s where he messed up because he didn’t take anybody with him. He said I was smart for bringing them with me. Honestly if it wasn’t for them I probably would have been back earlier, but they kept me focused as far as being overseas.
|Players like Stephon Marbury, Ron Artest & Pooh Jeter gave Mudiay advice|
It was two-a-days every day so my work ethic I feel like increased. Over here in America you do two-a-days, but probably just for a week. I had two a days for five and a half months. You would get some days off, but it was really on game days and stuff like that. Playing-wise, what was the biggest adjustment for you?
I would say the traveling. As soon as a game was over you'd fly out to go to the next city. I think that’s one thing I have an advantage on now because you know how they always say players hit the rookie wall. Other than the traveling, they have a 24-second shot clock. The game was much faster and by far the physicality was the main thing. Do you feel like the physicality is going to prepare you more for the NBA?
Actually Will Bynum was my teammate and Jeff Adrien, and they told me the NBA is actually easier physicality wise. We were getting fouls, but overseas you have to play through them. They said it wouldn’t be like this in the NBA, but it would still be physical. But they said I’m kind of a step ahead from going over there first and taking that beating, I guess. How did you think you faired from a playing standpoint?
I always feel like I could do better, but for what I did and with the games I played, I did good. When I got hurt it made me look at the game different. I’d never been away from basketball that long. I started watching film a lot more. That made my IQ higher. That made me ready for the games when I came back and played. As far as basketball, that was a main thing. Me and my coach would watch film before every game I played. It was just me and him, one-on-one. We would talk and he really helped me. Everyone out there can play, but you have to separate yourself with your mind. After this experience, breakdown your game? What are your strengths now and what are you trying to improve on?
Before I started watching film everyday, my technique on my shooting was kind of off. I became a better shooter out there because my coach would always make sure the guy who was guarding me would sometimes pressure me and sometimes back up. He would switch it up on me to make sure I see what’s coming up next and what teams would show me. Some teams went over and some teams went under, but there’s this thing I really learned with re-screening. If someone went under we would immediately re-screen and I really didn’t learn that in high school. The little things are what separate you and my teammates were really cool and helped me out a lot, too. From a shooting standpoint, do you feel like you’re a superior shooter than when you were in high school?
Yes. I don’t care about the percentages, but I wasn’t happy with some. I saw something that I definitely needed to start focusing and locking in on. I didn’t shoot a lot of free throws and I made more than I missed. That pissed me off a little bit because I know I’m a way better shooter than that.
How was your relationship with your coach?
We actually met at the Nike Hoop Summit. I’ve known him. But I didn’t know he was going to end up being my coach.
The experience, in general, did it go how you envisioned it?
Besides the injury, yes. I felt like that was really in God’s plan. When I got hurt, I had never been away from the game. It actually benefited me because I was in the weight room every day with our strength and conditioning coach. He got me stronger. I lost body fat and weight, but I gained muscle. I leaned up. So I really was working on myself a lot. I stayed in shape. Compared to the guys that went to college, do you feel like you have a leg up on those guys?
I’d say yes. I was playing against 30-year old men that are trying to feed their family. In college, they are trying to get an education and try to get a job after that. I was put in a job position. Looking back, if you had to do it all over again, is that the route you would go?
Definitely. Honestly it challenged me as a basketball player. I’m not saying I’m better than everybody in college, but I felt like it gave me a better challenge than college would have given me.
|Past Emmanuel Mudiay Coverage|
Will Bynum, Jeff Adrien, Stephon Marbury, Al Harrington, Willie Warren, all of the players I was playing against told me what to expect in the league. They’ve been there and played there. I played against a lot of NBA players and it got the best out of me. The first game against Stephon Marbury was an eye opener. I had 18 or something like that, but it felt different. He talked to me after the game and he gave me advice on how to play over there. After he told me that, my game started going up and up. Then I got hurt. But everything he told me stayed in my mind. Then Will came after I got hurt so I was seeing him in practice everyday and going against him. That was helping me out and I got that call to come back and play and I was ready. It almost sounds like the Americans that were over there took you under their wing and helped you…
That’s what was the most surprising thing honestly. Pooh Jeter was the first one actually and Ron Artest, too. They treated me like a little brother in a way. They told me to do this and that and just gave me advice. What was their advice to you?
From a basketball standpoint, just how to carry yourself because it’s a profession. They are getting paid to play the game. That’s their job. That’s how they feed their family. I just took every advice I could get, plus they played in that league. Pooh Jeter was there three years before I got there and he was just telling me what to expect. I don’t think you’ll be the last guy that goes this route, would you recommend this type of thing to elite high school players?
A part of me yes and a part of me no. You have to feel like you can challenge yourself in that way. You just have to understand that it’s not just basketball. That’s the thing. Before I got hurt, I would say, "Go, go." But when basketball wasn’t there, it’s like "Dang." I was out there. It helped me find myself. All I did was stay in my Bible to keep me focused. You have to have the right group around you. I would advise you not to go by yourself. I don’t know if they would get the deal I got. That was a crazy type deal. That was a main thing too. Even though it’s not about the money, if you got $300,000 I wouldn’t recommend you to do it because, well I don’t want to say wasting your time, but you can gain more by staying then going. When we talked before you went you said that a few high school players had reached out to you about following in your footsteps. Has that happened anymore?
No one has confirmed to me and said, "I’m going to do it." I’ve heard Thon Maker was thinking about it. But I don’t know. I think it’s been more people reaching out to coach Ray [Forsette] because I wasn’t here. What are your plans coming up preparing for the Draft?
As soon as I got back I got in the gym. But they are telling me to chill out. It’s weird. I don’t know what to do with myself. Once the season is over I guess I’ll get back to it really hard. It’s a little ways away, but do you have any inclination on how this draft will go? Have you thought about it much?
I’m not focusing on anybody but myself. I’m really proud of D’Angelo [Russell] though. I knew he was good. But he definitely surprised some people. I knew he had it. I don’t think anybody thought he’d do what he did this year. I’m really happy for him. I expected Jahlil [Okafor], Karl Town and Stanley [Johnson] and them to hold their own. It would be fun to see you and D’Angelo go head-to-head…
I’m not going to lie, I’m a different player, too. It’ll definitely be fun. It’ll be fun to go up against any of them. Watching the college basketball tournament, I really feel like if I had gone to SMU we would still be in there. There’s a group of people that thought you had to go overseas and couldn’t go to SMU. What are your thoughts on that?
It was definitely my option. People are going to talk. But it was definitely my option. Coach Brown said it himself. I wanted to help my mom and my family out. That’s more what it was about. I can always get my education, which I will get.