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Originally published November 13, 2012 at 10:23a.m., updated November 13, 2012 at 05:53p.m.

Cameroon center Joel Embiid to play basketball at KU

Joel Embiid. (Rivals.com contributed photo)

Joel Embiid. (Rivals.com contributed photo)

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Late-blooming Cameroon basketball sensation Joel Embiid, who is currently unranked but figures to skyrocket as recruiting lists continue to be amended during the 2012-13 season, on Tuesday morning orally committed to play basketball at Kansas University.

Embiid, who is listed 7-foot, 220 pounds by Rivals.com and 6-foot-11 by ESPN.com, chose the Jayhawks over Florida and Texas. A senior at The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., he also visited Marquette and Virginia.

“He’s the equivalent of a top-20 commitment,” ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep said of Embiid, a former volleyball player — and son of a pro handball player — who has been playing basketball just 18 months.

“Conservatively speaking, he’ll end up in at least the top 35-50 range,” noted analyst Eric Bossi of Rivals.com.

Embiid will sign his letter-of-intent during a Thursday ceremony at his high school. He announced his intentions to the world at 11 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday, typing the words “Proud to be a Jayhawk” on Twitter.

Embiid’s commitment came a day before today’s start of the weeklong early-signing period. The Jayhawks’ recruiting class, which is ranked second nationally (behind Kentucky) by ESPN, consists of big man Embiid, plus Conner Frankamp, 6-foot, 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 by Rivals.com, Selden No. 25, Frankamp No. 30 and Mason No. 133.

Embiid, who said he was blown away by the 2012 Late Night in the Phog, told ESPN that KU was the best fit.

“When I was visiting schools, I wanted to go and see what they’ve got,” Embiid said. “After my visit, I knew that Kansas was good. Luc talked to some people in the NBA, and they said that the player development was good at Kansas.”

Luc is Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, a fellow Cameroon native who discovered Embiid at one of his basketball camps in Cameroon when Embiid (now 18) was 16. Mbah a Moute, who played at UCLA and now plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, encouraged him to attend Montverde Academy (Fla.), where he played basketball his junior year under the direction of coach Kevin Boyle.

Playing behind 6-10 Dakari Johnson, Embiid elected to transfer to The Rock for his senior year.

“The improvement he made from April to July to now was really staggering. It was like, ‘Wow, how can one kid improve this much in four months?’” Bossi said. “But he’s only been playing basketball for a little bit over a year, period. He is raw, but there is a lot to work with.

“I wouldn’t really call him a shot-blocker. He’s a great rebounder. He’s got good hands. He’s got soft touch. I watched him do some skill work and do things he’s never done before. He seems to pick things up right away. And he’s hungry. He wants to learn. He sees an opportunity to help his family out through an education or maybe one day playing pro basketball. I think he’s really driven to succeed. He’s a really interesting, fun kid.”

The Rock coach Justin Harden said Tuesday: “I definitely think that Joel has every ounce of potential of what the experts say he has. When you hear Bill Self, Billy Donovan (Florida), Buzz Williams (Marquette) and other guys get excited about him, these are guys that have obviously sent players to the NBA. I’m talking about first-round picks and top draft picks, and they get excited and tell you that he can play in the NBA.

“I really believe that Joel has that potential. He can go to any school and make it to the NBA, probably, but it’s a matter of, his hard work is what’s going to determine whether or not he actually makes it to the NBA. He’s got a great coach in Bill Self, along with the rest of the staff,” Harden added, noting KU aide Norm Roberts did a great job recruiting Embiid.

Embiid played this past summer for Florida Elite AAU.

“He learned his foot skills by watching videotapes of Hakeem Olajuwon,” Florida Elite coach Jeff Simmons told cbssports.com. “He taught himself. His footwork is outstanding. He’s still learning the sport. He’s special. He’s going to be good.”

As far as his position ... “I can play center now,” Embiid said. “But I want to be a forward.”

A lot depends on the weight he’ll put on working with KU strength coach Andrea Hudy.

“It’s not like he’s scrawny. He’s 220 (pounds) so he’s got decent weight on him, but in order to battle with the really big guys in the NCAA, he’s gotta probably put on at least 25 more pounds,” Harden told the Gainesville Sun.

“He can run the floor really well and he can get out,” Harden added. “He can catch awkward balls. Some bigs can’t catch a ball unless it’s dropped right in their lap. He can catch balls that are somewhat over his shoulder or behind him. He can make those adjustments.”

Some of Embiid’s future KU teammates welcomed him aboard on Tuesday.

“Welcome to the family big dawg,” Selden wrote on Twitter.

“Shoutout to Joel Embiid for committing to KU! Best recruiting class in the country!” Frankamp wrote.

Comments

rrwisecup 1 year, 5 months ago

Can anybody tell me if they know if Zak Peters is going to play this year?

0

vd 1 year, 5 months ago

Where is Danny Manning when we need him????

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Steve Jacob 1 year, 5 months ago

Always afraid of guys with multiple high schools being eligible.

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Joe Baker 1 year, 5 months ago

ATTENTION RECRUITS:

“When I was visiting schools, I wanted to go and see what they’ve got,” Embiid said. “After my visit, I knew that Kansas was good. Luc talked to some people in the NBA, and they said that the player development was good at Kansas.”

0

wrwlumpy 1 year, 5 months ago

I see where Gonzaga beat Big 12 power West Virginia by 34 points. Welcome back Huggy.

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kayjku 1 year, 5 months ago

Huge HUGE pickup!!! Rock chalk!!! Beat the Spartans tonight!!

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HawkKlaw 1 year, 5 months ago

How the f--- do you print on a twitter account?

1

1jhawk2 1 year, 5 months ago

I'm not as excited. The kid can run, dunk and block shots against smaller players. How well could he do against others like Nerlens, Withey, Zellers, Jordan Enriquez, Thomas Gibson and a few others? We see Lucas red shirting this year since he doesn't have that much experience. I'd been happier with Randle, Roberson or Gordon. We need the stud post player to go along with Ellis.

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WindmillGIANT 1 year, 5 months ago

On paper, this is the best class since 09's class of Xavier-Withey-EJ-TRob. Too bad Xavier didn't stick around another year or two with TRob. Can't imagine what last year would have been like with Tyshawn, TRob, and Xavier starting, or the year before for that matter with the twins...oh well, probably not worth thinking about.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 5 months ago

Well..if Landon Lucas has to transfer, there's a pretty decent big man coach somewhere down Tulsa way!!

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 5 months ago

There is a huge, huge difference between Embiid and say, Milton Doyle.

"Justin Harden, Embiid's coach at The Rock, sees a hungry, intelligent diamond in the rough."

If this were said about Doyle/Lindsay/Traylor/Adams/Anderson, we'd be in for a day of back and forth, etc. We remember the drill. That won't happen today.

Embiid is different. See, he really is possibly .. possibly .. a diamond in the rough. His rough was freaking Africa, not Chicago. Long plane ride, and maybe a mule or something to get there. And Embiid doesn't look like anything we'll have on our roster.

Let's just keep expectations for this kid at a reasonable level. Shall we say -- rotation time next season? Possible starter his sophomore year? Those should be considered high, but for some reason that seems reasonable.

With this kid, like nearly all others, rankings mean something. Let's see where he's ranked. And that is exciting. Why? Because that's where the experts peg him. That's how valuable he is to coaches. All of the evidence says this kid is (likely) a top 50 player. Telep at ESPN says possibly a top 20 talent. But the knowledge base on this kid is much thinner than nearly every other top 100 guy.

But even better. He has tremendous upside. Now, if we can keep the NBA dogs off of him at least until he gives us a full season of top line play.

I had said our "perfect" class (with Frankamp and Greene already committed) would be Frankamp, Greene, Anthony Barber (NC State), Karviar Shepherd (TCU) -- and maybe REHawk as the fifth .. meaning the 5th didn't matter much if we got those last two. Selden, Embiid and Mason round the class out nicely. For some reason, I kind of like Selden and Embiid over Barber and Shepherd now. A grand slam, best class ever? Exchange Mason for Barber and that's a slam. But grand slams are rare outside of Lexington nowadays.

We do have some weakness in the post for 2013. A lack of highly skilled, game ready guys That's a weakness. Ellis is one .. the only one. We know that. My guess is that Self will be working on a Johnson or Randle, or some other spring surprise. And who knows, we could have a 13.3% in our midst -- Peters may be that guy.

Regardless, glad we have this Embiid in crimson and blue. Excellent recruiting class.

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Timmay97 1 year, 5 months ago

I found this somewhat ironic that CNN posted this article on the day that Joel Embiid commits to KU. There is a ton of truth to this article. I hope this kid pans out......could mean good things for KU in the future.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/13/opinion/masai-ujiri-africa-basketball/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

Enjoy!

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Konkis Dongington III 1 year, 5 months ago

Glad to see it happen today. I put myself out there the other day, then there was some confusion about when he was announcing, so I was worried that my intel was bad. This is awesome news, but I don't think we're done with recruiting for now.

As Embiid put it, he's looking for development, not immediate PT. He chose the right school for getting that kind of attention. Still, he's probably not going to be able to step in and give us the kind of continuity we want when he replaces Withey. He's got a lot to learn. He'll probably go the way of Cole, having some moments of brilliance his freshmen year, but really stepping it up in sophomore and junior campaigns.

With that trajectory in mind, I think we'll continue to pursue Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon, and Dakari Johnson in order to have more of a ready made starter in the 4a position. If we miss on all accounts, it won't be a huge failing. I think we'll continue to be pretty good with Ellis and a healthy Peters to provide muscle while JoJo develops. Johnson has to be at the top of the wishlist, though, because he is so big bodied and has such a nice touch finishing. Randle too, but I still see him as UK bound unless Gordon or Wigs commits there first. Gordon I still think will wind up in the PAC 12 at either Zona or Cal. I know Selden is on both those guys, but I'm sure other players are too. I don't know if Wigs seriously wants to attend a school that's not FSU or UK. I kind of get the feeling he just wants to be recruited by all of the blue bloods. At any rate, landing Johnson would make this about a perfect class.

Of course, if we sign another player, that inevitably means a transfer, unless BMac is projecting in the lottery at the end of the season. Lucas is probably that guy. I'd bet that Rio and White both stick it out. Even if White can't defend, in tight games, he's a guy you sub in to run some set plays and knock down a couple of 3s. I doubt he'll play a whole lot this year, but I won't be surprised if we see him for some crucial moments in a few games. As for Rio, Self has patience for those who are willing to defend first. Plus, have you seen the shoulders on the kid? He's broader than EJ and maybe even Relly. He's going to be a phenomenal player when he puts it all together. Lucas, however, I just don't think is going to get there physically. He's too slow and foul prone. His skill set is great, but his athleticism just isn't there compared to the other bigs.

0

mattiesdad 1 year, 5 months ago

Did anyone notice he's shooting with both hands after playing for such a short time? Very rare. Justin should feel lucky they already shot the Wilt video!

3

Duane Rice 1 year, 5 months ago

It cracks me up that this article came out at 10:38am and most of us have him in the NBA already. Just remember Moulye Niang. I'm sure Embiid will be better but the same things were said about Niang.

1

dannyxo 1 year, 5 months ago

I am going to keep expectations low and say that he looks like a cross between Kevin Durant and Ralph Sampson.

4

Ryan Zimmerman 1 year, 5 months ago

The best thing about his MixTape Highlight video on Youtube is that it starts with an ad mentioning University of Florida:) Sorry, Gators!!

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Michael Auchard 1 year, 5 months ago

Back up to #2 over on ESPN's top recruiting class list. Take that Memphis (again)!

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Patrick Bryant 1 year, 5 months ago

Any chance Manning is 1 and done @ Tulsa and then comes back to be around his boy for 3 years?

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Zstegs 1 year, 5 months ago

"Of Embiid, Harden told ESPN.com: “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."

Hmmm Seven-Footer...Ex-Volleyball player...needs to put on some weight...who does that remind me of........

2

Zstegs 1 year, 5 months ago

Joel, meet Andrea Hudy. She is your new best friend.

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Ethan Berger 1 year, 5 months ago

I honestly don't think Randle or Gordon will come our way. I have a feeling both will be 1 and done. With Ellis probably being a 3 year guy, that means neither of these guys will see as much court as they should. I have a feeling Randle will stay home and play at UT and get a lot of PT, Gordon will probably go Washington. That leaves us with possibly somehow one more spot (Bill will find a way). Wiggins goes Florida also I bet. Now this is just a gut feeling, so don't take this to seriously. But there are some 4 star guys who are interested, and right now it doesn't matter what spot they play. We need some depth for 2013.

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jhawk613 1 year, 5 months ago

If we land Randle, Gordon, Roberson or Dakari, then Embiid redshirts just like Lucas is redshirting this year.

Next year would be Peters, Lucas, Ellis, Traylor, Wesley and our last recruit (one of the 4 listed above) and Embiid would have a year to hone his skills in practice and add bulk with Hudy.

Then he would emerge as a fixture in the rotation.

0

Jayhawk470 1 year, 5 months ago

I see we're preparing for the day when Jeff Withey will no longer be with us. Good grab!

0

Timmay97 1 year, 5 months ago

Let's shock the world........Andrew Wiggins........come on down!

0

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

Could Embiid reclassify to last year's class and suit up tonight for MSU? :-)

Another footer never hurts. :-)

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jhawk613 1 year, 5 months ago

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was his advisor during the process. Seeing that he's been in the NBA I think he knew Kansas can prepare a big man better than Florida or Texas who are typically more guard-oriented offenses.

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REHawk 1 year, 5 months ago

JoJo, welcome aboard! Already, Jayhawk fans are gathering unbridled interest and intensity to watch your game develop. Andrea Hudy and her KU training staff probably are looking forward in eager anticipation of your June arrival. Your physical and skill development will be one of the paramount features of Jayhawk Basketball in oncoming months and years. Thanks for choosing to join this extended family.

2

Raydude 1 year, 5 months ago

Would bet that Strength Coach Andrea Hudy's reputation for results was a significant factor in the process.

1

Tad Shurtz 1 year, 5 months ago

Anybody know how to pronounce Embiid? Em-Bid? Em-beed?

0

Tony Bandle 1 year, 5 months ago

Bill Self and Kansas CANNOT RECRUIT!!!!

  • 2003 - ranked #8, * 2004 - ranked #2, * 2005 - ranked #4, * 2006 ranked #12, * 2007 - Not ranked [ the team was full of stars that would win a National Championship the next spring but a freshmen named Cole from that class did a little bit to help the Hawks on!!], * 2008 - ranked #2, * 2009 - ranked #6, 2010 - ranked #23, 2011 - ranked #29, 2012 - ranked #10, 2013 - currently ranked #3 with potentially four 4 stars recruits...and counting.

Frankamp, Greene, Embiid, Selden and maybe Robertson....whomever quotes the first sentence of this post, from now on, automatically becomes douchebag of the week!!!!

3

dylans 1 year, 5 months ago

Fantastic news! Welcome into the fold of the best team and fanbase in America, Joel.

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trustyourSelf 1 year, 5 months ago

Yes! I just wish Coach Manning was still around.

2

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

"Outlier Post Regarding Ben Fouland, Shabazz and Breakdown of NCAA Sanctions of Coaches/Schools by ShoeCo Contract Type"

First, I'm not a Ben Fouland fan.

Second, nevertheless, Ben seemed perhaps for a time to have joined what I have speculated on might be an unofficial alliance of coaches "trying to do it the right way."

Third, on the heels of Ben's problems with his AD last spring/summer (regarding losing control of his team), I wondered (probably wrongly) if the UCLA AD were keeping Ben around to ice Ben's incoming class (Shabazz et al), so he might then have more to offer an incoming coach sometime this season, if the AD were to S-Can Ben, finish with an interim, and along the way ink a new future coach in order to get a head start on recruiting for a following season.

But, now I cannot help but recall that UCLA is an Addidas school.

And I cannot help but notice that that Ben makes another coach at an Addidas school the NCAA has sanctioned.

And I cannot but notice that it seems, at least anecdotally, like maybe more Addidas coaches/schools have been getting sanctioned by the NCAA than Nike coaches.

Has anyone read anything about the way NCAA sanctions against coaches/schools break down by ShoeCo contract?

Since Nike reputedly has a much larger percentage of coaches/colleges under contract than Addidas, Russell, or Under Armor, one would--other things being equal--expect Nike contracted coaches/schools to be sanctioned for violations much more frequently by the NCAA than, say, Addidas contracted coaches/schools.

If anyone has any data on this, please post it.

0

clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 5 months ago

Never been excited about Late Night in November.....until now!!!!!

0

Sally Presson 1 year, 5 months ago

Wow, how exciting, Joel, you'll never regret choosing KU, it's the best place on earth with the best coaches EVER and our players will be your best friends and brothers. the Jayhawks are a family and will welcome you with open arms!!! Rock Chalk Joel and welcome to KU

1

JHawk06 1 year, 5 months ago

Rock Chalk!! seems like a good kid with a TON of upside. Here's to our coaching staff turning another hungry kid into an NBA player!

0

JHawk06 1 year, 5 months ago

Rock Chalk, seems like a good kid with a TON of upside. Here's to our coaching staff truning another hungry kid into an NBA player

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David Leathers 1 year, 5 months ago

Hell yea, my gut feeling was right! Welcome to the Fieldhouse Embiid...Oh how amazing we'll be.

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Robert Brock 1 year, 5 months ago

Interesting get. Now, I hope that we have one more scholarship to give in April. This could be a sensational class!

1

deberg81 1 year, 5 months ago

Why does he want to play foward?

0

litlmikeyb 1 year, 5 months ago

Awesome news! Incredible recruiting effort by the coaching staff... As if we needed anything else to get us more excited for KU before the game tonight... Rock Chalk!

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Max Walker 1 year, 5 months ago

Rock Chalk Jojo! Such a stacked class coming in next fall! I love the bunch we have now, but I'm already looking forwards to the most exciting recruiting class in some time! Great job HCBS on dispelling any notion you lack in recruiting, not that there should have been one in the first place.

3

HawkKlaw 1 year, 5 months ago

“I conservatively guessed it as top 50 to 75, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was more top 25 to 50."

Here's one instance where we can't really rely on rivals rankings to give us a good idea of where Embiid is from a skill standpoint. You're telling me he's unranked right now, yet he could be as good as a Top 25 future NBA star, but maybe only as good as a Top 75?

Translation: Nobody knows how good Embiid will be. He's too unproven to tell right now. He is clearly impressing people with his size and ability, but he's severely lacking in the experience department.

It seems, though, that experience is one of his only weaknesses. He can rebound, he's athletic, he's a great finisher and he even has a soft shooting touch.

I'm stoked to have Embiid and Lucas battling it out for that center spot when Withey heads to the pros. It sounds like they're both going to be "projects," but the upside is huge with Embiid. As others have said, it's a great day to be a Jayhawk.

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STLrockCHALK 1 year, 5 months ago

In some way, this guy's as good of a get as anyone in the '13 class for the Jayhawks. Should be fun watching him develop into a big time player. Welcome JoJo!!!

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jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

If he's 6-11 in high school, he's easily 7-1 at KU, even if he doesn't grow an inch. :-)

Super news.

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d_prowess 1 year, 5 months ago

It says he needs to put on about 25lbs... Andrea Hudy time!!!

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Chad DeShazo 1 year, 5 months ago

Awesome! Welcome aboard the NBA big-man express. We're happy to have you.

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riverdrifter 1 year, 5 months ago

This Bill Self and his staff are something else.

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Ryan Michael 1 year, 5 months ago

Really excited about this kid! He's got incredible up-side... Welcome aboard Joel!

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joeloveshawks 1 year, 5 months ago

Yes!!! I know that my opinion is just based on Youtube highlights and what I have read but this kid seems like he could be NBA ready in a few years. Huge get for the Hawks. Great day to be a Jayhawk.

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Ludwig Supraphonic 1 year, 5 months ago

Although the article clearly indicates why he transferred to The Rock, I am now sensitized to the NCAAs tendency to be obstructive. Won't stop me from being excited about an athletic, motivated big!

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PayHeedAll 1 year, 5 months ago

Well, looks like we might be okay the next few years...geez

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Ethan Berger 1 year, 5 months ago

This is great news. If we can somehow land a highly ranked 4, then holy crap life will be good (or better because life is pretty good)

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hucking_fawks_rock 1 year, 5 months ago

Rock Chalk baby... the future is bright at KU.

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Joe Ross 1 year, 5 months ago

Midwest...I honestly had my own concerns because of a ton of recruiting misses. I admit it. But Coach once again makes skeptics eat crow. Or Hawk. Including me. Good get, this kid.

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kuballhawk 1 year, 5 months ago

This is a GREAT pick-up. Welcome to the family, Joel! You'll love it here. Rock Chalk!!

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fabian_zimbabwe 1 year, 5 months ago

Not to worry, midwest_muser, I'm sure DRSmith will be along shortly to puke all over our parade. In the meantime, I'm liking this news!

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jbal32 1 year, 5 months ago

Joel Embiid will be in our Top 100 in January. IMO, he's the equivalent of a Top 20 commitment.

Dave Telep, ESPN

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midwest_muser 1 year, 5 months ago

Where are all the Bill Self recruiting haters these days?

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ljmhawk 1 year, 5 months ago

welcome aboard!! I'm excited for this years team and the years to come!!

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