Emmanuel Mudiay, the second-ranked recruit in the class of 2014 by ESPN.com, had signed to attend SMU this year before opting to sign a $1.2 million contract to play in the Chinese Basketball Association.
“I’m still close with the kid and the family,” Brown said. “I thought it was a bad decision but I’m going to support him because he decided to come with us because he trusted us and thought we could help him.
“I was aware of some of the obstacles he faced but you can’t tell somebody that has nothing and is struggling for everything to pass up a chance like that.”
Brown, who will be 74 next month, led SMU to a 27-10 record in his second year in Dallas last year and the Mustangs reached the championship game of the NIT, where they lost a 65-63 decision to Minnesota.
He said his experience with Mudiay won’t deter him from recruiting other players who are likely to be so-called one-and-done players.
“Yeah, because I’m the best coach for that guy,” Brown said. “I believe that and I don’t mean it in a bad way.”
Brown said what he wished is for the NBA to adopt a system similar to Major League Baseball, where players can be drafted out of high school but if they opt to attend college, they are locked in for three years.
“My theory is Emmanuel is going to make it,” Brown said. “He’s that good and he’s a great kid. But it’s not going to be good for everybody. And I’m afraid that there’s a lot of people out there that are going to push people in that direction.
“Unfortunately, there’s agents and so-called agents pushing them that way and I worry about that.
“If the NBA would ever get a hold of this thing and make it like baseball, it would be better. … You shouldn’t be held back if you’re someone like LeBron James or Kevin Durant, but there’s not many of those guys.
“You look at the NBA, there’s all these young kids that are drafted on potential. They go to bad teams, they’re in bad locker rooms and now we got this analytics stuff that doesn’t teach kids how to play.
“I would hope the NBA Players Association would say that people like LeBron could come out early because he’s so gifted but if you stay, you stay three years.”
Brown is 42-27 in two years at SMU. He was 135-44 in five years at Kansas from 1983-88 and won the NCAA championship with the Jayhawks in 1988 and was 42-17 in two seasons at UCLA from 1979-81.
Brown was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 as a coach and has a 1,098-904 record in parts of 27 seasons as an NBA coach for nine different teams and won an NBA title in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons. He also posted a 229-107 record in four seasons in the old American Basketball Association in the 1970s, the same league he played in for five years, 1967-72.