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New academic requirements in 2016 will make it more difficult for some recruits to play as freshmen. Also, there’s a great chance that the NBA’s next labor agreement mandates at least a two-year gap between high school and the league.

Meanwhile, the NCAA will continue to rake in nearly $1 billion per year on March Madness and retain its position as prospects’ primary path to the pros.

Emmanuel … really wants to alleviate some of the challenges his family faces and recognizes that he has an opportunity to help them now,” Brown said. “While I believe that college is the best way to prepare for life and the NBA, Emmanuel’s situation is unique.”

His choice is somewhat unique but his circumstances are ordinary: He’s going from high school to the workforce.

We would root for him if he played baseball or a bass guitar. We would offer best wishes if he read lines by day and waited tables by night. We would congratulate him if he planned to apprentice as a plumber instead of a point guard.

However, Mudiay is on the verge of shooting hoops for a living, which typically means playing for free in college or peanuts in the minors before paydays begin. Overseas opportunities are too scarce and too daunting to fundamentally alter the system.

But this move is another step toward an inevitable sea change.

The more stringent eligibility standards, coupled with the NBA’s expected transition from “one-and-done” rules to “two-and-through” (or “three-and-flee”), will cause more elite players to seek alternatives. Those would include the D-League, conveniently in line for a revamped salary structure to coincide with the aforementioned changes.

By then, the NCAA might be forced to cut checks for players.

It will be too late for Mudiay.

But when we look back at these turbulent times, his decision won’t go unnoticed.