While the NCAA recently ruled the first two Prime Prep (Texas) Academy basketball products ineligible for 2013-14, raising concerns about the academic standards at a school co-founded by Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, a third star vowed to return to the school and assured readers of his blog that "everything's fine academically there."
Early last month, the NCAA notified top 100 Class of 2013 recruits Jordan Mickey and Karviar Shepard that they could not play their freshman seasons at LSU and TCU, respectively, as a result of Prime Prep's academics, according to an ESPN report.
But that isn't stopping rising senior Emmanuel Mudiay -- Rivals.com's No. 3 ranked basketball recruit in the Class of 2014 -- from returning to the school launched by Sanders and co-founder D.L. Wallace this past fall (h/t Dallas Morning News).
Here's what Mudiay relayed in his "Emmanuel's Manual" blog written for USA Today:
I want everyone to know that everything is good with Prime Prep too. We've met about everything and everything is cleared up so everything is fine academically. I guess there's some source saying things, but we're fine with the NCAA.
Trust me, my boys Jordan (Mickey) and Karviar (Shepherd) will be fine to play next season. You'll see.
So, yes, I will definitely be returning to Prime Prep next season and everything's fine academically there. We're gonna do everything we can to win the national title next season. And we'll still have some big time talent coming. Stay tuned.
Mudiay's list of offers is a long one, and he included Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor and SMU among the schools in hottest pursuit of his services, but any school has to be wary of Prime Prep until the NCAA rules otherwise. Perhaps the 6-foot-5 point guard knows something we don't, since returning would otherwise be a massive risk for his future.
Of course, Prime Prep has assured players of the school's NCAA approval in the past. After winning back-to-back Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools state titles at Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep, Mudiay, Mickey and Shepherd all followed coach Ray Forsett to Sanders' charter school for the 2012-13 season.
When the Texas high school athletic association (University Interscholastic League) declared Mudiay, Shepherd and others ineligible for prep competition this past season, Prime Prep withdrew from the UIL but assured its students the school "completed all preliminary steps necessary for NCAA membership," posting a rather vague letter from the Eligibility Center on the school's website in January:
The information received by the NCAA Eligibility Center revealed no immediate issues. Based on NCAA Eligibility Center policy, however, Prime Prep Academy will be placed under an extended evaluation status for a minimum of two full academic certification cycles. This status will not preclude Prime Prep Academy prospective student-athletes from being reviewed individually through the NCAA initial-eligibility process.
Carrying solid GPAs with them from Grace Prep, Mickey and Shepard "were misled by the school. Everyone told them there wouldn't be any issues," a source told ESPN.com. But Mudiay can't make that claim, now willingly returning for his senior season.
For the most part, Prime Prep has lived up to its Winning mascot on the court, finishing 37-2 this past winter and reaching the National High School Invitational semifinals, Sanders and Co. must still prove their influence on student-athletes in the classroom.