Originally published November 12, 2012 at 05:47p.m., updated November 13, 2012 at 10:24a.m.

KU basketball notebook: Prep recruit Joel Embiid to announce college choice today

Joel Embiid. ( contributed photo)

Joel Embiid. ( contributed photo)


— Joel Embiid, a 7-foot, 220-pound senior basketball center from The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., eventually decided to pick his college on Tuesday.

That wasn't the plan for a couple hours. On Tuesday morning, Embiid sent a text message to saying he was pushing his decision back a day. Then, a few hours later, Embiid tweeted "Proud to be a jayhawk," officially announcing he was heading to Kansas.

Originally, the plan was for Embiid to announce his college choice Tuesday, according to Justin Harden, who is Embiid's high school coach at The Rock.

Embiid, a native of Cameroon, is currently unranked by, in large part because he has played organized basketball for just over one year. He visited KU for Late Night in the Phog and also visited Texas, Florida, Marquette and Virginia.

Embiid is currently unranked by, in large part because he has played organized basketball for just over one year. He visited KU for Late Night in the Phog and also visited Texas, Florida, Marquette and Virginia.

The first day of the week-long early signing period is Wednesday.

“He is a surprise to me and a pleasant one at that,” Harden told “He’s every bit of 6-11. He can do a lot of good things with the ball. He’s only been playing 18 months. He was a volleyball player before that.

“At 6-11, he’s got an effortless shot,” Harden added. “He’s a long-term stock. With what he’s been able to do in 18 months in terms of skill development (it’s impressive). Once he gets consistent weight training the sky is the limit.” officially lists Embiid at 7-foot, 220.

KU on Wednesday is expected to sign Conner Frankamp, 6-0, 160, Wichita North; Brannen Greene, 6-7, 200, Tift County High, Tifton, Ga.; Frank Mason, 5-11, 160, Massanutten Military Academy, Petersburg, Va.; and Wayne Selden, 6-5, 225, Tilton (N.H.) School. Greene is ranked No. 24, Selden No. 25, Frankamp No. 30 and Mason No. 133 by

Embiid is planning on signing his letter with a yet-to-be-determined school in a ceremony at his school on Thursday.

Greene, by the way, is not expected to attend today’s KU-Michigan State game in Atlanta, which is about a three-hour drive from his home in Tifton. He plans on watching the game on ESPN following his team’s practice.

Izzo a winner: In 18 seasons at Michigan State, Tom Izzo has compiled a 412-170 record with one national title, six Final Four appearances and seven Big Ten crowns highlighting his resume.

The Iron Mountain, Mich., native has also led the scrappy, hard-working, ultra-physical Spartans to three Big Ten tournament titles and reached the NCAA Tourney 15 consecutive seasons.

“He’ll put them in helmets and pads. That dude is crazy,” KU coach Bill Self said with a laugh. “I’ve only done that a few times. He does it on a regular basis. I remember one time we were playing with helmets and pads (during a practice over Christmas break back in 2003-04). We were running secondary break and primary break. Guys are guarding each other. Some guys liked it and some didn’t like it too much at all.

“I remember Mike Lee liked it a lot,” Self added of the rugged former KU combo guard now an assistant coach at University of San Francisco. “I don’t think I’ve done a great job getting through to our guys yet. Toughness is not about physical strength. That’s a small part of it. It’s about not flinching, going after every ball with two hands, carrying out assignments when you just screwed up, thinking next play. We’ve got to get better at that.”

History: Self’s KU teams have a 1-2 record vs. Izzo’s MSU teams. KU beat the Spartans, 81-74, on Nov. 25, 2003, in Allen Fieldhouse. KU fell to MSU twice in the 2008-09 campaign — 75-62, on Jan. 10, 2009 in East Lansing, then 67-62, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAAs in Indianapolis. ... Overall, KU is 4-5 against MSU in a series that dates to 1960. KU won, 96-86, in overtime in the 1986 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game in Kansas City, Mo. KU then defeated North Carolina State to advance to the Final Four in Dallas. In the next meeting, Michigan State defeated Kansas, 66-54, in the Great Eight on Dec. 7, 1999 in Chicago.

Quick healer: Michigan State sophomore Branden Dawson, who had ACL surgery last spring, hasn’t missed a practice.

“That’s pretty impressive,” Self said of the quick recovery of the 6-6, 230-pound sophomore from Gary, Ind. “It’s comparable to Brandon (Rush, ACL at KU) even though Brandon tore his the first of June and was back in a limited role. This guy ... he was full speed the first of October.”

Noted MSU coach Izzo: “Maybe the best present is Branden Dawson is healthy. He’s come back with no signs athletically of any issues. He hasn’t missed a practice, hasn’t sat out a minute since we’ve got going.”

Dawson said he tries not to dwell on the injury.

“Coach asked me the same thing; he asked do I think about it, do I have any pain? I just tell him that when I go out on the court I have been doing this since I was 7 years old. This is something I love, so when I go out there, I don’t think about it. When you think about it, you start thinking something will happen,” Dawson said.

Like Dawson, KU senior Elijah Johnson is from Gary, Ind.

“I don’t know him. I ran across him. He played high school ball with my cousin,” Johnson said. “I’ve been hearing about him for some years.”

Dawson’s take on the match-up: “Kansas is a great team. They made it to the national championship last year, came in second place. (Their) tall guy Withey is a 7-footer. He’s great, an NBA prospect. Elijah Johnson is from Gary (Ind.). They have really good guards and a really good team and good coach. We have to come out and execute our offense.”

KU players on MSU: “They’ve got a good coach. They’ve got a good program. They are going to play Big Ten style,” Johnson said. “They’ve got bigs who are pretty strong. They like to push the ball and score in transition. We have to be tough on the glass. The guards have to help the bigs on the glass.”

“They are a good transition team. They like to get up and down the court. Michigan State will be a great team to play,” Ben McLemore said. “The key thing for us is just go out and play the game of basketball, play as a team. Offensively it’ll come to us and play defense.”

“Michigan State is known for being physical,” Jeff Withey said. “They are part of the Big Ten. It’ll be a tough game. We’re looking forward to it, though. It will be a tough, physical game.”

• A previous version of this story has been updated to reflect the newest information available with Embiid's college announcement.


Kyle Sybesma 8 years, 11 months ago

Is anyone aware of KU's contract with Adidas? I've heard it's about to expire and Nike will return. Can anyone confirm that?

Eric Williams 8 years, 11 months ago

I heard Embiid wants to go to a Skechers school...

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 11 months ago

I heard that we have an agreement with Stephon Marbury to set up a shoe contract with Starbury, in a huge rebranding campaign for both parties.

mikehawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I predicted he was a sure bet for Marquette. I was wrong. Maybe, just maybe, we will get this guy.

Dale Kroening 8 years, 11 months ago

Sure hope your right and your sources legit.

Vernon Riggs 8 years, 11 months ago

I don't have sources at KU, but I do know people on the Marquette staff, they say he is KU bound.

Ethan Berger 8 years, 11 months ago

konkey, if you say this and this is untrue, you will break my heart. However, if he does commit you will have become a go to guy on recruiting and sources. Please be right.

ljmhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

this guy will be would be a good get. he's a little skinny right now but let Hudy get him to put on about 15-20 pounds of muscle.

Omari Miller 8 years, 11 months ago

Joel has ridiculous upside. The sort of athleticism and raw talent he has for a 7-footer is crazy.

Alec White 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm not a religious man, but I'll be honest---I've prayed that we can sign both Embiid and Randle. That would give us the best recruiting class ever in my opinion, even if Kentucky somehow lands Wiggins. We'd have top 50 players at every position (assuming Joel gets ranked that high), and not only that, but they seem like their games mesh together perfectly. Frankamp and Greene as shooters, Selden as the rugged perimeter player, Randle as the offensive workhorse, and Embiid as the rim protector.

I know this may be a pipe-dream, but oh sweet Jesus would we be deadly. Rockchalk.

DRsmith 8 years, 11 months ago

Are you serious? Wouldn't even sniff the top class ever. It is a very good class and let's leave it at that. You can't sign an unranked guy and think that puts you over the top. KU would have to get Wiggins and Randle to get in the conversation for best class ever.

Dale Kroening 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree, a good class, but best ever is really stretching it.

Kye Clark 8 years, 11 months ago

Maybe he means the best class at KU. I would still disagree, as the Chalmers, Wright, Rush, Downs class is hard to top (despite how Micah Downs failed to live up to expectations, coming out of high school it was still a big get), but if that's what he meant it would at the very least "sniff the top".

Priest Fontaine 8 years, 11 months ago

@icthawkfan316 - As Rock_Chalk_25 mentioned, if we signed Randle and Embiid on top of our current recruits, this would be better than the Wright, Rush, Downs class in my opinion. Of course, this is taking into account that I think a lot of our current recruits are going to move up in rankings this year. They certainly have a lot to live up to (thanks to Rush and Chalmers).

dylans 8 years, 11 months ago

The 8, 10, 12, 14 ranked kids and a national championship. 2013's class should be so lucky.

master16 8 years, 11 months ago

well basically you're saying he will end up unranked when he comes to KU in 2013, there's still a lot of time....

scouts are placing him in the 25-40 range rankings wise, he's just unranked atm.

this is already a good class, and will be a great class if embiid commits. however, if we land wiggins or randle too, this will be Self's best class at KU and a top 3 class in all recruiting.

ku1otaku 8 years, 11 months ago

Apparently, Kentucky is the only school that can sign "unranked" kids and it not be a problem. They've got a commit for next year who is ranked #37 PF (Derek Willis?). Of course, if KU gets a commit from somebody like that than Self can't recruit and the sky is falling.

RJ King 8 years, 11 months ago

Derek Willis' rank is what is falling.

diegohawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Have to agree. I have the same vision in my head. What a team that would be. Add Perry Ellis, possibly B mac and some depth at a couple of positions. Wow. Would be awesome. B mac may be gone though. Perry will be here but not because he isn't an NBA type player, but because he will develop his game and be reflective of one of the better Hawks ever then he'll go pro. Don't see us landing Randle but I have very high hopes for Embiid. Randle's the better player but Embiid is the better fit defensively for our group of guards and our physical/athletic bigs we will have over the next couple years.

Dale Kroening 8 years, 11 months ago

Espn has him as a 4 star player and #11 center in the class, but not in their top 100. It will be interesting to see what the others will rank him. Right now they have our class ranked #3 behind Memphis at 2 and Kentucky at 1.

ljmhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

his twitter says THURSDAY is a big day

Ryan Knuth 8 years, 11 months ago

I believe the early signing period begins Wed or Thurs, so that is probably when he is going to sign with whatever team he picks tomorrow and hopefully that is us.

Boouk 8 years, 11 months ago

I hope why this decision has been reached fairly quickly is because we aren't the only ones who know how easy of a choice this is, despite Danny Manning leaving for Tulsa. I'll go out on a limb and say he won't pick Texas, unless he thinks Cameron Ridley's a OAD.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 11 months ago

If we get this guy honestly this class maybe done. I can't see another big coming next year, mostly because we would be stacked at the position. If Ellis left after this year we would have Traylor, Peters, Lucas and Embiid along with Wesley being a senior. I am not sure if another big would come, but either way with Greene, Selden, Mason, Frankamp and Embiid I would be very happy with the incoming class.You consider the choice of lineups to choose from: SF: White, Selden PF: Traylor, Peters, Wesley(even though he won't get many minutes) C: Lucas, Embiid SG: McClemore(if he stayed), Greene, Adams PG: Tharpe, Frankamp, Mason

The crazy part is, besides Tharpe, not one major player on the team would be a junior or older. At KU, we don't rebuild, we RELOAD!

Boouk 8 years, 11 months ago

Ellis won't leave after this year, even though he might be good enough to.

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree, Boouk. Unless he changes drastically, he seems just as interested in his academics as he is in basketball.

Kye Clark 8 years, 11 months ago

Well here's the thing: of the bigs we are recruiting, if they are capable of playing close to their rankings, none of those guys would scare them off of coming here. Ellis would be the only one along the lines of that caliber of player (again, assuming they can play to their ranking). Randle, Gordon, & Roberson should all be able to come in and easily beat out most of the other guys for minutes. Now they're all a little under-sized, so we'd be small with one of them and Ellis in the post, but Self has played that way before - two athletic 4s with true centers coming off the bench (Kaun, Aldrich in '08). Just saying, if these guys are as good and believe they're as good as their rankings, the log-jam of post players won't deter them.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 11 months ago

That did cross my mind and the only reason why I can see a big name big not coming if we got Josh is because he felt we had a lot of depth and concerns of playing time. I do agree that he may feel he is good enough to come in and start. Then again, if Ellis does stay, the PF spot is really stacked and I really doubt we get another one. Honestly, I can see some of these guys who are considering us wait to see if Ellis may leave. Anything is possible.

Jhawk2515 8 years, 11 months ago

We need him. A big in this class is crucial. Already have 3 guards.

gorilla10 8 years, 11 months ago

We'll, ku and bill self will out coach the heck out of Texas! Florida is lame.....go to ku.

Matt Gauntt 8 years, 11 months ago

Just watched some youtube videos of this kids - WOW!! He's only been playing for a year???

minnhawk84 8 years, 11 months ago

Cameroon. Think Climate. The guy's not coming to Lawrence. I have known many equatorial Africans -- their thermostats just can't handle cold. Florida yes, Texas in a stretch.

BTW, I am a life-long KU fanatic, so don't give me the troll label.

RJ King 8 years, 11 months ago

Well maybe not, but there WERE allegations at UConn of illegal payments and improper help on standardized tests. Probably Snuggies and hot chocolate distributed to guys from equatorial climates on SAT day.

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 11 months ago

In my geographic ignorance, I don't know how far Cameroon is from Senegal, but that's where Moulaye was from. He didn't seem to mind the Kansas weather.

texashawk10 8 years, 11 months ago

Embiid did say on twitter after Late Night that KU was at the top of his list and I haven't seen anything since then that says KU still isn't the favorite to land Embiid. As for his rating, most recruiting experts expect Embiid to be a top 75 recruit or possibly top 50 by the time final rankings come out. Signing Embiid does not mean KU can't sign one an elite big in the spring because there is the possibility of McLemore going pro or someone transferring out after this year.

Eric Williams 8 years, 11 months ago

Embiid, if he chooses KU, will red-shirt and hone his skills while adding bulk.

David Klamm 8 years, 11 months ago

Embiid will not be redshirting. He may not start but by the end of the season he is an impact player

Ethan Berger 8 years, 11 months ago

This would be a huge pick up. His coach says he shot is effortless. A 7 footer who has been playing 1 year with an effortless shot? Yes please, hopefully he isn't injury prone at that size.

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

Embiid would be good.

But we need a pret a porter big, too.

Plus, Self needs a 250-260 pounder on the roster somehow. Either Peters has to eat a lot, or a wide body has to be recruited.

Allen Shepard 8 years, 11 months ago

Surprised no one has mentioned the Embiid-Withey connection as former volleyball playing footers.

FarSideHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Even if we get Embiid, I'd like to get either Randle or Dakari in this class.

Dee Shaw 8 years, 11 months ago

Unreal. One player that we are recruiting that is not considering Kentucky. We just might have a chance with Embiid.

clevelandjayhawker 8 years, 11 months ago

Any idea what time tomorrow? Is he texting Jayhawkslant only? That seems like a KU lean to me.

ohjayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

The other thing that gives me hope is, according to a comment on one of his YouTube videos, he was apparently supposed to attend a UF game in the past couple of days and didn't show. Don't know the validity of that, but, if true, it's not going to be good news for the Gators.

ljmhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

don't want him anymore...was supposed to announce Thursday...then Tuesday and now Wednesday...he's Florida bound.

AsadZ 8 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps he changed his mind due to an important KU game tonight. I am hoping that he is KU bound and did not want his announcement to coincide with the cruicial game.

ohjayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I went to the Gainesville Sun ( and Austin Statesman sites to see if I could find out what the competition's thoughts were. I found nothing, zero, zilch, about Embiid's pending announcement. The only thing I found about Embiid at all was a Sun article from September 13 about how he "intrigues" UF. Makes me all that much more thankful for and their tireless pursuit to keep us informed!

Clarkeee88 8 years, 11 months ago

He's definitely announcing today. He talked to his mentor and moved his decision back to today. This coming from his twitter account and was even nice enough to tweet back at myself and clarify it would be today.

jbal32 8 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the info Mr. Ellis!! Hoping for some good news today on this recruit followed by a beat down of MSU tonight. Holy Crap, while I was typing this I refreshed JOJO's twitter page and he committed to KU!!! Simply said, "Proud to be a Jayhawk" from his twitter page!!!! Awesome!!!

Cody Riedy 8 years, 11 months ago

ESPN recruiting page is already updated as of 10:20 am.

ljmhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

frankamp just tweeted on Joel's twitter...we are gonna be GOOD!!

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