On Monday, high-profile SMU recruit Emmanuel Mudiay made the monumental decision to skip college and play basketball professionally next season.
The heralded 6'5", 190-pound guard from Dallas, TX had been rated as the fifth-best overall prospect in the 2014 recruiting class by ESPN, and had surprisingly turned down offers from Kentucky, Kansas, and Baylor, among others to stay local with Larry Brown and the Mustangs.
First and foremost, Mudiay's decision drastically changes the outlook next season for SMU and head coach Larry Brown. Mudiay was expected to be an integral part of a Mustang squad that was projected by many to be a top 25 or even top 15 team next season. They will now have to scramble to find the pieces to replace a player of Mudiay's talent on such short notice.
Mudiay's family and SMU have strongly maintained the position that this decision was made for the well-being of his family, and had nothing to do with possible eligibility concerns.
"I was excited about going to SMU and playing college basketball for coach Larry Brown, but I was tired of seeing my mom struggle," Mudiay said. "After sitting down with my coach, coach Brown, and my family, we decided that the best way for me to provide for my mom was to forgo college and pursue professional basketball opportunities."
But according to NBC Sports' Rob Dauster, there is not much merit to those claims. "The general consensus seems to be that Mudiay made this decision to avoid becoming the next Josh Selby or Shabazz Muhammad," wrote Dauster, "an elite recruit whose season is delayed and whose name is tarnished by eligibility issues."
But no matter the reasons behind this decision, it will have a lasting impact on college basketball recruiting for years to come.
With new developments such as the stricter initial academic eligibility standards that the NCAA plans to impose starting in 2016, and the possibility of the NBA extending their minimum age requirement to 20-years old in the near future, it seems as if many elite prospects may consider forgoing college eligibility to play professionally.
But those elite prospects will also have another huge decision to make for themselves in deciding where they will want to play professional ball for a year or two.
The most common answer to this question would likely be to sign a big contract overseas, as former top recruits Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler have done in the past. But using those two as examples, that may not be the smartest route to take.
Take the talents to Europe
Jennings made over $1 million and was drafted 10th overall in 2009 by the Milwaukee Bucks after playing a year in Italy, but he certainly did not seem to enjoy his time overseas very much. During his stint in Italy he stated, "I've gotten paid on time once this year. They treat me like a little kid. They don't see me as a man," continuing, "it's tough man, I'll tell you that. It can break you."
Meanwhile, after unimpressive stints overseas in Israel and Japan, Tyler was selected 39th overall by Charlotte in the 2011 draft and has failed to make any sort of impact in the NBA since, averaging just under four points and three rebounds per game for his career.
The struggles faced by both Jennings and Tyler make Mudiay's experience all the more important if he chooses to go and play overseas. If Mudiay struggles to adapt to life overseas as Jennings did or does not turn into an impactful NBA player, that would likely make future prospects extremely wary of choosing the overseas route to bolster their NBA chances.
But if he turns out to be an NBA success after playing in a foreign nation, that may open the door for waves of future NBA prospects to follow in his footsteps.
The other option for Mudiay, as pointed out by SB Nation's Chris Reichert, would be to stay stateside and play in the NBA's D-League next season.
This has become a viable option for players after the success of P.J. Hairston, who took his talents to the Texas Legends for 26 games last season after eligibility issues kept him out of playing for the University of North Carolina. After averaging 21.8 points per game for the Legends, Hairston was drafted 26th overall by the Miami Heat (and then traded to Charlotte) in this June's draft.
Reichert also pointed out that staying in the U.S. would give Mudiay much more playing time, and more importantly more exposure to NBA scouts.
But Hairston's success coming from the NBADL certainly isn't typical, as pointed out by former St. John's recruit Norvel Pelle.
After failing to meet the NCAA's academic requirements while trying to attend both St. John's and Iona, Pelle joined the Delaware 87ers. In Delaware, he averaged an underwhelming 5.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game last season.
Pelle entered the 2014 NBA Draft but went undrafted, and his NBA future is now uncertain. So while staying in America and playing in the NBADL may be the safer option, it certainly does not guarantee any sort of success at the next level.
St. John's and head coach Steve Lavin haven't been strangers to recruiting eligibility-risky prospects similar to Mudiay in the past few years. With the willingness to take risks to bring in high-end talent, St. John's has successfully recruited Jakarr Sampson, Amir Garrett, and the aforementioned Pelle back in 2011.
More recently, foreign product Orlando Sanchez was known to be an unconventional recruit with eligibility risks.
If these types of recruits begin to follow Mudiay's path in the future, it could spell some trouble for the recruiting plans of Lavin and the Red Storm.
No matter where Emmanuel Mudiay decides to play professional basketball next season, he'll still certainly have a bright basketball future ahead of him.
His possible success in whatever path he chooses should have a lasting impact on college basketball recruiting for years to come.
What effect do you think Emmanuel Mudiay's decision will have on high-major basketball recruits in the US?