WHEELING, W.Va. – Emmanuel Mudiay is one of the most patient point guards in the country, regardless of class.
He’s aggressive when he needs to be, he doesn’t force passes when the play just isn’t there and he controls tempo exceptionally well at all times.
That’s why ESPN ranks him No. 4 in the 2014 class.
“He’s a great player,” Mudiay’s Prime Prep (Dallas) coach Ray Forsett said. “He doesn’t get rattled and he’s always making the right play. Most guys only know one speed, but he’s just really patient.”
Remaining patient has been Mudiay’s greatest challenge this season.
From players being ruled ineligible to being forced to withdraw from elite tournaments, Mudiay has had to deal with pesky roadblocks keeping him from proving that he and his Prime Prep squad don’t just belong in the Super 25, but in its upper echelon.
MORE: Super 25 Rankings
“We should be ranked really high,” Mudiay said. “Not to be ranked has been a slap in the face and all season we’ve been waiting to play a highly-ranked team to show the country what we can do.”
The wait is over.
Prime Prep (14-0) will take on Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.), ranked No. 3 in the Super 25, tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Cancer Research Classic at Wheeling Jesuit in Wheeling, W.Va.
“We’re pumped for this game because we’ve been through a lot this season already,” Prime Prep freshman guard Terrance Ferguson said. “Now that everything is behind us we want to get our respect back and this is the game to get it. It’s been a crazy season and we’re only 14 games in.”
Before the season cranked up, Prime Prep was widely regarded as one the top teams in the country, but in October the District 11-3A Executive Committee ruled that three of Prime Prep’s top players, which included Mudiay, were ineligible for the 2012-13 season for improperly transferring because of athletics.
That forced most national outlets, including USA TODAY, to leave Prime Prep out of their preseason rankings.
In November, Prime Prep withdrew from the University Interscholastic League, the governing board of high school athletics in Texas, and reinstated its players, but the move made Prime Prep ineligible to face Florida High School Athletic Association teams under FHSAA rules.
That meant Prime Prep couldn’t compete in the prestigious City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., a tournament that posted eight teams ranked in the Super 25.
“That was where we were planning to show people why we belonged in everyone’s rankings,” Mudiay said. “It was disappointing because we knew that was a good opportunity for us, but now we’ll just have to show it against Huntington Prep.”
Prime Prep has certainly been showing it this season, rolling teams by an average of 30 points per game.
“We’ve played pretty well this season,” Forsett said. “But, to be honest, we want to play games like this one against Huntington Prep. Us winning by 30 every night isn’t helping my kids. We feel like we’re the best in Texas and we want to play the best teams in the country.”
The Express (14-0) certainly fit the profile with Andrew Wiggins, the consensus No. 1 player in the country, on the roster along with fellow seniors Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a shooting guard who is signed to Florida State, Moses Kingsley, a forward who is signed to Arkansas, and Dominic Woodson, a forward who is signed to Baylor.
Ferguson said the Express would “definitely” be Prime Prep’s toughest draw to date; a fact that only seemed to ignite his excitement.
“I just love a challenge and I’ll bet we’re gonna be their toughest matchup of the season,” Ferguson said. “We’re coming into the game to win it. We know that a lot of people will be watching this game so, yeah, we want this one pretty bad.”
It’s a familiar scenario for Rathan-Mayes, who said he’s come to expect every team’s best shot.
“We just look at them as another team standing in our way of a national championship,” Rathan-Mayes said. “Every team we play has that mentality.”
Still, Forsett said the mentality his team is adopting for tonight’s game is even more simplistic.
“We’re gonna lay out our finest clothes and they’re gonna lay out there finest clothes,” Forsett said. “We don’t make guarantees or anything, but at the end of the day, I think we’re gonna dress better.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter @JayJayUSATODAY.