A view into the basketball career of 18 year-old Emmanuel Mudiay and how his using China as a proving ground for his future NBA career has gained international exposure for the China Basketball Association.

DMG is always striving to change global paradigms, therefore we celebrate International Basketball Day by highlighting a trailblazer who has reshaped the landscape of international basketball. His name is Emmanuel Mudiay; and in the summer of 2014, he signed a one year, US$1.2 million contract to play for the CBA’s Guangdong Southern Tigers.

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What makes Mudiay’s actions such a global game changer?

Mudiay was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, moved to the United States and began playing basketball in middle school. As Mudiay played for institutions such as Grace Preparatory Academy and Prime Prep Academy in Texas, his basketball skills were undisputable. He was selected to be on the McDonald’s All-American team and was the MVP at Adidas Nation 2012. Many considered Mudiay to be the best guard in the class of 2014, so Southern Methodist University Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown eagerly sought out Mudiay to play for the Mustangs.

Despite the potential of a degree and NCAA play experience, Mudiay, who came from an impoverished background, opted to support his family and signed the deal with the Southern Tigers instead of the Southern Methodists.  Similar to Brandon Jennings, Mudiay skipped the NCAA and became the first basketball player to use the Chinese league as a proving ground for the NBA.

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Established in 1995, the CBA (中国男子篮球职业联赛) consists of 20 local teams fiercely battling for the Mou Zuoyun Cup (牟作云杯). Over 300 million fans tune into the CBA’s 34 regular season games, making China the second largest basketball market in the world. The market size alone has encouraged sponsorships from companies such as Nike, UPS, Li Ning, Tsingtao Beer and VW-FAW. The CBA has produced international basketball stars such as Sun Yue, Mengke Bateer, Yi Jianlian and, of course, Yao Ming. The CBA has also revitalized the careers of noteworthy NBA players like Stephon Marbury, Gilbert Arena and Metta World Peace [or 'Panda Friend' or just the player formerly known as Ron Artest].

Despite the CBA’s stiff competition, Mudiay has continued to steal the spotlight. During his first 10 games in the CBA, Mudiay averaged 17.7 points, six rebounds and six assists. Taking on Stephon Marbury and defending champs the Beijing Ducks, Mudiay managed five rebounds, two assists and scored 18 points. Mudiay achieved his first professional triple double while playing against the Qingdao Double Star Eagles. With 22 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, Mudiay easily lead the Southern Tigers to a 127-116 win.

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In all, the CBA has proved to be a valuable platform for Mudiay, where he’s been able to showcase his superior athleticism and advanced basketball strategies while facing some of the best competition the league has to offer. Some analysts believe Mudiay’s decision to play in the CBA has better demonstrated his NBA potential, as he faced true basketball professionals instead of student athletes, most of who will never make it to the elite of the NBA ranks. Between Mudiay’s million dollar Under Armour endorsement and a projected No. 2 overall pick for the 2015 NBA draft, Mudiay certainly seems to be on the right track for basketball fame.

Mudiay’s actions have certainly expanded basketball’s international potential – for the first time since 2007, China is a necessary destination for NBA scouts. But most importantly, Mudiay has paved the way for other aspiring basketball stars to become involved with the world’s second largest basketball market as a platform their skills. With more young basketball players considering the CBA as a proving ground, not only will the CBA further develop its talent and status, but also the global epicenter of basketball may shift away from the States, further improving the sport’s international appeal.

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