Surrounded by the best players in the country, five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay still managed to stand out during the 37th McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday night.
The All-Star Game, which took place at the United Center in Chicago, was filled with talented seniors from across the country, but Mudiay clearly looked like one of the more polished and dynamic players on either team.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder finished with 15 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 block in 21 total minutes played. Mudiay, who played point guard and shooting guard in the game for the West team, was 6 for 15 from the field, 0 for 3 from three-point range, and 3 for 4 at the free throw line.
He started the game off with a pretty pass to game MVP, and Duke bound, big man Jahlil Okafor for a layup. Throughout the game, Mudiay showed why his size, court vision, and passing ability make him a lethal floor general. He found openings in and over the top of the defense that most other players in the country wouldn't be able to see. At the end of the game, he made an incredible behind the back, no look pass to Okafor that sealed the West's 105-102 victory.
Mudiay was also impressive taking smaller defenders, like Tyus Jones, into the post and showing his versatility on offense. He passed well out of the post and caused defenders to crash on him often. He penetrated and attacked the basket a lot too, which lead to him finishing a few nice plays in traffic and drawing a couple fouls.
One of Mudiay's buckets was a very impressive reverse-layup that had the crowd going wild. Throughout the entire game, ESPN announcers Jalen Rose, Jay Williams, and Carter Blackburn raved about Mudiay's game.
"He is one of three boys from war torn Congo that moved to the United States in 2001," Blackburn said. "Mudiay says that past helps him appreciate every opportunity he has been given in his life now, like playing in this game right here and getting a scholarship to SMU."
The highlight of the game for Mudiay came at the end of the first half. With time running out on the clock, Mudiay crossed East guard D'Angelo Russell and took the ball to the basket for a nasty slam-dunk. During halftime, Jalen Rose was gushing about Mudiay's combination of size and strength.
"Emmanuel Mudiay is a terrific prospect," Rose said. "At 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds, he is able to shoot and finish with the ball over the top. I'm just going on record saying I think he is definitely the best guard, if not the best player, in this class."
Mudiay, who was the only player in the game headed to the American Athletic Conference next season, did a lot of great things on the defensive end in the game, too. He showed his ability to play lock-down one-on-one defense and caused problems for the East team by jumping passing lanes. Mudiay was also very controlled and poised throughout the game. He showed great patience, especially in transition, and competed hard on the glass on both ends.
Of course, he wasn't perfect. Mudiay took a lot of bad shots in the game and wasn't very efficient on offense. He didn't make any three-pointers and looked like he was forcing it at times out there. However, that is expected to happen in the McDonald's All-American game when players are just trying to show off to one another.
"Mudiay is naturally poised and has great vision," Jay Williams said during the game. "He is also big and has a great burst. He needs to work on being more consistent with his jumper, but he is going to be great next year in the backcourt with Nic Moore at SMU. They also return Markus Kennedy, who was a beast down low for Larry Brown, so SMU is loaded and will be ready to go."
The SMU basketball program and Larry Brown continued to receive praise throughout the whole game. Williams went on to guarantee the Mustangs wouldn't be in the NIT next year and took the time to compliment new Moody Coliseum as well.
"How about the job Larry Brown has done getting the first McDonald's All-American last year in Keith Frazier and now getting Emmanuel Mudiay to stay home in Dallas," Williams said. "Mudiay said the fact Brown was willing to help him improve his game before he even decided to commit was a big reason he went there. Mudiay at that rocking new venue is going to be great next year."
Williams also talked about how Mudiay and point guard Nic Moore have a chance to be really special together next year in the backcourt for SMU. In the McDonald's game, Mudiay played off the ball a lot with little point guard Tyler Ulis and showed his versatility.
Mudiay also had one play where gathered the rebound, ran about half way down the court, and threw a very impressive alley-oop pass to Stanley Johnson. Another highlight came when Mudiay blocked a jumper on the defensive end and took the ball coast-to-coast for a layup. Those types of plays are what will make Mudiay a very special and unique player for the Mustangs next season.
"He has a great mindset with the ball and will most likely be the best player on his team next year," Jalen Rose said. "He just makes things happen. He changes speed in transition and understands how to play. He is also built well and has great size. The sky is the limit for this kid working under a coach like Larry Brown."