Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Column: Embiid waits; public wonders

Kansas center Joel Embiid ties a shoe during practice for the Jayhawks' opening NCAA basketball game in the Big 12 men's tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

Kansas center Joel Embiid ties a shoe during practice for the Jayhawks' opening NCAA basketball game in the Big 12 men's tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, March 12, 2014.


In most cities, “Hello, how are you?” is the most commonly asked question, although it’s really more of a greeting than a question. Nobody listens to the auto-answer.

In Lawrence, it ranks a distant second to the runaway winner: “Why hasn’t Joel Embiid announced his decision yet?” The implied, though not stated, finish to that sentence is, “so that I can get on with my life already.”

My guess is one of three possibilities comes close to the right answer.

Scenario No. 1: Maybe Embiid is waiting for his father to return from Cameroon so that he can attend the news conference. Thomas Embiid told the Journal-World’s Gary Bedore at the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City that he would return to Kansas from Cameroon shortly after the completion of the NCAA Tournament. He did not say shortly after the end of KU’s participation in it. Thomas might already have purchased the ticket for that trip well ahead of time. Why pay extra money to change it? It’s a lot cheaper to buy in advance.

The tourney ended Monday night, so based on Joel’s father’s stated timetable, an announcement could come any time.

My guess is that this is the most likely scenario and that Embiid will announce his eligibility for the NBA Draft, but it’s just a guess.

Scenario No. 2: Embiid has delayed his decision and really doesn’t know yet what he wants to do.

The only reason to list that as a possibility was inspired by the words of his head coach, Bill Self, who at the Andrew Wiggins farewell send-off said of Wiggins, “He’s got to get serious because this is no longer fun. It’s fun, but it’s also his profession. It’s his trade. It’s his job. ... If it were my son, I would tell him he’s made the right decision. It’s time. Now with that being said, there’s also that time now you go from being a youngster to being a man and competing against men, so your approach has to change and be like a man’s.”

The coach returned to the theme a moment later, saying, “He’s going to go into the next level with a lot of hype. And there are going to be a lot of men who say, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa now, rook; hey, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and you’re going to have to earn your way.’”

Self went on to say he didn’t think Wiggins would face anything he can’t handle but stressed he has to be prepared, and that preparation begins “emotionally and mentally right now. He’s got to understand that. It’s fun and games. It’s fun. Press conferences and announcements are good, but when this is over, it’s time to get to work.”

The on-target words were spoken about and to Wiggins, but were they aimed at Embiid, who was in the room?

Scenario 3: Embiid has decided he will return but wants to delay the announcement until the team banquet on Tuesday, April 15. This ranks as the most exciting and least likely possibility.

Twitter can be a valuable tool when playing the Embiid guessing game. Whatever “@jojo_embiid” tweets, the smart play is to go opposite. A playful sort, Embiid loves messing with followers in Twittersphere, or is it Twitterspace? Tweetopia? Twellonearth?


Suzi Marshall 7 years, 5 months ago

When Embiid's father reported he would return after the completion of the NCAA's for Joel's announcement, their plan became obvious...Scenario 1.

I hope Self and company remains in close contact with Turner.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 5 months ago

If it was truly Texas, Myles would have declared by now!!

Benz Junque 7 years, 5 months ago

You added the "for Joel's announcement" yourself. He simply stated he would be returning after the end of the tourney. My assumption would be that it was so that the family could talk through his decision; not specifically to be here for an announcement.

I have a gut feel that he stays but nothing would surprise me. I feel confident that we will have either Embiid or Turner on the roster next year and both are excellent options.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 5 months ago

The season's been over for more than 2 weeks now. It makes sense that Joel has already talked through his decision with his father. It's certainly no stretch to think that they've talked and Joel has made a decision and that Joel wants his father to be present when he makes his announcement.

I thought the same thing when Thomas Embiid said that he would return shortly after the NCAA tourney. Thomas Embiid came to Kansas in March, knowing that Embiid was not available to play in the Big 12 tourney. He came anyway probably because he had to play his leave from the military and book his travel early. He must have already purchased his travel fares. He probably couldn't plan his travel at the last minute in order to be available to watch Joel play in the tourney or to travel in right after an early exit from the touney.

If Mr. Embiid already had purchased his airfare, then he likely will be here soon. The other times that he has been around, he has not stayed very long. I would expect some news before Thomas Embiid travels back to Cameroon.

However, HEM also makes a valid point. From a leverage standpoint it makes the most sense to not announce anything until the NBA deadline.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 5 months ago

Thomas Embiid said something along the lines of...he would return after the completion of the NCAA tournament and a decision/announcement would be made quickly.

William Weissbeck 7 years, 5 months ago

I still say, I don't understand why the NCAA doesn't do more to protect it's product. Now that the tournament is over, who will we remember? Probably only Shabazz Napier. There is no Bird vs. Magic, no Ewing vs Olajuhon. Wouldn't the NCAA want Embiid vs. Okafor? And while I'm on this rant, remind me again why the Big 12 didn't give an invite to Louisville?

Andy Hess 7 years, 5 months ago

I could be wrong, but I remember people saying that the academics at Louisville weren't up to the Big XII level. Again, not sure if that's the reason, but I remember hearing that on various message boards.

William Weissbeck 7 years, 5 months ago

Yes, that may be it, and that in part explains why Maryland left the ACC, but doesn't explain why Notre Dame joined. Still, I see a huge TV package down the road, and the Big 12/KU isn't going to be a part of that. The FB alone would have helped.

Kyle Rohde 7 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, it had nothing to do with academics when this conference also has the Oklahoma schools, Texas Tech and both Kansas schools, neither of which are that hard to get into but are at least upping the standards finally.

Hank Cross 7 years, 5 months ago

Texas greed and also the short-sightedness of some other schools.

Joe Baker 7 years, 5 months ago

Where can we find or get a Shabazz Napier prototype? Anyone have any ideas or know where we can find one? I'm really hoping we can find one because HCBS needs one really bad. It's our biggest missing piece of the team. I loved his leadership on the court and how he pushed Boatright into position at one point on the court. I love that dominating take control leadership. KU misses that in a HUGE way.

William Weissbeck 7 years, 5 months ago

The guy at WSU was pretty good too. What I noted from the tournament is that if you have small guards they absolutely must get under the skin of the other teams guards, get at their feet, cause turnovers. WSU was pretty good at that vs. the Harrisons. If you let the bigger guard drive you, you're in trouble. Also, if you have smaller guards they have to have a step back jump shot, for obvious reasons. Frank Mason needs to take that role. Also thought that UCONN had a great strategy going over the top of Florida and UK's zones. I wish we would have done more of that. Maybe Florida and UK's zones didn't look as packed in as we usually saw, because UCONN did have outside threats.

Mick Allen 7 years, 5 months ago

William and Joe I continue to believe we have that prototype in Frank Mason. Napier and Boatright both play excellent ball pressure defense. As commentator Steve Kerr, who does an excellent job pointed out, the one advantage smaller guards have on defense guarding taller opponents, like the 6'6" Harrison twins, is they come up at their taller opponents dribble and do not swipe down at the ball. As you pointed out William the disadvantage that smaller guards like the 6' tall Napier and Boatright have on defense is getting posted up. The Harrison twins were unable to do this consistently last night and I think some of their reluctance to do this was their concern about controlling their dribble against the U Conn backcourt. Their height makes their dribble higher and leaves it right in front of their pressuring defenders. KU did not play pressuring back court defense this year primarily because Nude ir couldn't keep anyone in front of him except the nurse from the Gardner Edgerton school district, even when he backed off his opponent a couple of steps. You did not want him playing denial pressure defense. We forced few turnovers and had few steals this season. I believe defensively Mason has the athleticism and competitiveness to play solid ball pressure defense and to jump the passing lanes similar to the way Mario used to. While admittedly Frank has to improve his out side shot, and make some better decisions on when to take it to the rack and when to distribute, this was his freshman year and I am confident he will improve significantly. The old theory that you can't beat a zone off the dribble but must do it with the pass is not the way the game is played now. When your zone offense goes stagnant, as our's did often this year, you must have someone with the ability and the confidence to get into the seams of the zone off the bounce to cause help defense to come thus giving you a numbers advantage on the interior. Conner did a wonderful job of taking care of the ball this year but I believe Frank, because of his quickness and strength, is a more likely candidate to do this than Conner. Napier controlled the pace and rhythm of the game. While he made a couple of brain dead turnovers, his speed and ability to control his dribble like it was on a string, allowed him to dictate how the game was played. As everyone realizes The NCAA tourney is point guard driven. Any guard that makes plays for others off the bounce is going to turn the ball over some. While I am not adverse to bringing in another guard if we find the right one, of the players coming back next year, Mason because of his athleticism, fearlessness, and competitiveness most closely resembles the Napier prototype. Lastly, Calipari's clock management, down 4 with 1:09 to go was abysmal. Had he managed late game situations better{2008 and 2014] he would have 2 more national championships, although he would have had to give one back.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 5 months ago

Nice analysis by the way. I do believe Frank has the athleticism, but he cannot just rely on that. He has a bull headed personality with his offense because he drives without the intent to see what is around him. I do hope he understands that his job needs to be to utilize the players around him and make himself a secondary threat. You are spot on that he needs to improve his outside shot because so far it is abysmal to say the least. He is a freshman, so I do hope he takes his experience and grows. As far as Calipari, he is not the coach I would want in the last 2 minutes of a game to win because he lives and dies by his players and really is not a superior X and O coach. He overcomes that by bringing in stud talent. Let's face it, the last two games they won Harrison took a last second shot and wasn't even a set play so that should tell you all that you need to know.

Mick Allen 7 years, 5 months ago

I appreciate your feedback Mark and I do understand some of your concerns about Frank at the point. However I think you would acknowledge that his decisions improved as the season progressed. If we could have finished at the rim against Stanford he would have had 5 or 6 assists. He throws the lob off penetration better than anyone we had. Remember also the 2 or 3 threes he hit against WVU in the last game of the conference season to get us somewhat back in the game. His 3 point percentage[30%] I believe, will improve. Being stubborn as a point guard is not always a bad thing. The point guard like a quarterback in football is the most seconded guessed position on the court. If having the utmost faith in your abilities no matter what happened the play before is stubborn, then I agree Frank is stubborn. As his playing time increases I believe you will see an ability on his part to make better decisions and to control the pace of the game and make the talent around him better. He is a small one but he is an alpha dog.

Bernard Gregory 7 years, 5 months ago

Frank is that kind of player and the main reason he started to do better at the end of the year is because when he drove the players started coming to the basket looking for the pass instead of staying on the outside watching . The only way he can play that type of game is if thats what the coach wants , not the everybody stand around the primeter and wait to attack offense. I have yet to see anyone that can keep Frank from getting to the basket but you have got to make the other team pay for helping when he does get there and that comes with a scheme. This kid can shoot, he just learning how to make the adjustment from shooting more of a set shot to shooting a jump shot.They must give him the team and not use him as a pawn to make Nadier play better. Give him the 30 something minutes a game and you will see the difference.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 5 months ago

Option 4: The NBA only requires players to declare by April 27. But because the NCAA rule requires anyone who declares for the draft to retract that declaration by April 15, Embiid is better off just saying nothing in case there is a change in his status based on medical condition, draft spot, or other information. Embiid has no reason to rush the public announcement of his decision. To do so would limit his ability to change his mind. By waiting, he has an additional 12 days.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't think that it's unprecedented since the new deadlines were set for a player to wait until well past the NCAA deadline to announce for the NBA draft.

I would guess however, that Embiid will announce his decision publically some time before the Jordan Brand Classic. To send a clear message to Myles Turner whether or not we have a scholarship and an open position for him next year.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 5 months ago

That might be hopeful .. meaning that Embiid will be considering KU's well being in all of this. It would be nice if he could provide that clarity.

Joe Baker 7 years, 5 months ago

I think you're absolutely right. He's going to take whatever time he wants with no consideration of his coach, teammates, institution, or fans. I respect his decision either way. I'm not going to speculate anything, but he needs to make it if he knows it. He's holding things up for some very selfish reasons.

I love the kid and want the best, but this delay is ridiculous. He either stays or declares, it's easy. All the other details will work out with time. But, screw us, it's his party and he can do what he wants. Hope he makes a good one and one that makes him happy.

Benz Junque 7 years, 5 months ago

The delay isn't ridiculous because you are ASSuming that you know the reason for it. The kid has stated all along that he wants to sit down and talk with his family and the coaching staff and make his decision. I do not make the assumption that he is LYING about that and he has done nothing to date to make me think that this is no longer the plan. I am sure that he has spoken to his family via telephone but all three parties will not have the opportunity to sit down together in person until Embiid's father arrives in town. It's not unreasonable that Embiid and his father would like to sit down with Self, in person, and talk through all of the options.

As stated, changing a plane ticket from Cameroon is likley ridiculously expensive. He probably booked a flight for after the end of the tourney, so I would expect Embiid's father to arrive sometime this week and a decision to be announced sometime in the next 7 days or so.

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 5 months ago

In other words you are ASSuming he will make his decision in the next 7 days or so.

Benz Junque 7 years, 5 months ago

Hence the words "I would expect"... versus "He's going to"... I get that we're all antsy about it, but I think Kansas is going to be fine whether he stays or goes.

Benz Junque 7 years, 5 months ago

No reason? You mean besides the fact that he will be hounded more and more by the media, friends, etc... as time goes on? You besides the fact that waiting longer potentially SCREWS the Kansas basketball team that has worked so hard to develop and spotlight him?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 5 months ago

"So I can get on with my life?????" Really?????

I think that Kentucky's experience last night with 5inexperienced freshman out to be a wake-up for everyone. These high school kids are green, inexperienced, and immature. Placing all your "eggs" on them is problematic at best.

Are you paying attention, Bell Self??

Tony Bandle 7 years, 5 months ago


1] Let's start with about 10 million reasons..his family may be well off but they are not THAT well off.

2] The injury, though non-career threatening, is a reminder of worse possibilities.

3] Top Three Lottery Pick would be hard to improve upon with another year of school...only direction is down.

4] Dominates current players in college..becomes the new kid on the block against the big boys in The Show and learning curve greatly accelerates.

5] Could end up in LA as the Laker rebuilding program..could be worse.

6] Has learned to drive so all things are possible!!! :)

Benz Junque 7 years, 5 months ago

1] That money isn't exclusive to this year.It will be there whenever he comes out. Frankly, it will be a few bucks more next year as salary caps increase.

2] Name one NBA big man EVER that didn't have occassional back pains or foot pains. The body isn't made to be 7 feet tall. There is no getting around it.

3] He isn't looking to increase his draft position. He has bigger goals which is to be ready to impact the NAB right away and he is not there at all right now.

4] Embiid did not dominate college basketball, not even close. He had a pretty good year, that's it.

5] Crap shoot. Could end up in Cleveland sports hell just as easily.

6] Now all he needs to do is gain 25 pounds.

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 5 months ago

Only two reasons Embiid should stay:

1.) His back is much more serious than we or he thought. 2.) Our selfishness as fans.

There are a few things we need to consider when watching these kids make their decisions and they are: 1.) Money is power and when it's put in front of you, you can't turn it down. The only person dumb enough was Marcus Smart and look what happened to him. 2.) This is their choice and we know nothing about what's best for them. 3.) Expect one and dones every year and you'll never be disappointed. It's the game now, and with the amount of revenue it brings both colleges and the NBA, it won't go away anytime soon. Unless the NCAA is sanctioned and forced to pay their student athletes. 4.) We will always have a competitive team regardless of who plays for us. Why? Because we're KANSAS!

My predictions:

1.) Embiid and no Turner.... Result: we're awesome

2.) Turner and no Embiid.... Result: we're awesome

3.) Embiid and Turner.... Result: we're too awesome

4.) Neither Embiid or Turner... Result: still awesome

William Weissbeck 7 years, 5 months ago

As a friend of mine who is on the HS official's committee in another state and who also refs college games - you don't turn down generational wealth. Granted some guys blow it, but you don't turn it down. Some day there will be an exception. Duke fans are convinced it is Parker - but he's different - doesn't need to go pro and has his Mormon mission coming up anyway. I'm surprised that there isn't more NBA opinion on how they would handle Embiid's back. Odom was a bust because someone didn't do their homework, or he just had an unforeseen breakdown. I'm surprised the NBA leaks haven't already leaked out.

Benz Junque 7 years, 5 months ago

The money for a rookie contract isn't generational wealth. The money for the NEXT contract is. That is the contract that Embiid needs to be preparing for and another year of colege would help him be ready to get a MAX contract when his rookie contract ends.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 5 months ago

BJ...10 mil plus invested wisely is NOT generational wealth??!!...WOW. I guess I am at the poverty level and just don't know it yet!

Benz Junque 7 years, 5 months ago

Hard to get kids making $3 million a year to live on just their 80-100K of interest a year. There are exceptions, but not many. People that make that kind of cash rarely have enough money to get to their own old age, let alone the next generation. I consider genrational money to be money that couldn't be burned through by even a careless family member. the $100 million plus max contracts are that.

Eric TheCapn 7 years, 5 months ago

I believe rookie contracts are essentially predetermined, but also last for like three years. Perhaps an extra year in college prepares him better for his second contract, but three years in the NBA is probably a good setup either way.

Keith Gellar 7 years, 5 months ago

No matter what the prediction is, 98% probability that KU exits in the 2nd round to a 10+ seed

Tony Bandle 7 years, 5 months ago

C' happy..UK lost..Cal 's gonna bolt to LALALAND..then NCAA will hammer Ken-tuck..sounds like a plan to me!!

Rodney Crain 7 years, 5 months ago

So no Embiid and no Turner and were still awesome? How many blue pills did you take lol? (see Jack Wilson's posts a few days ago - the Matrix ones)

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 5 months ago

I may be crazy to think this but I think Ellis, Lucas, Traylor, and Alexander can take care of business down low. Now we won't have the height we are used to having but I think if we can step up the defensive intensity we will be pretty good. I think Alexander is the key though, given he's a huge intensity guy. All I'm truly saying though is not all is lost if Embiid and Turner aren't in a KU uniform next year. I will always have faith in HCBS. ;)

Rodney Crain 7 years, 5 months ago

You are not just as good if you don't have one of those players? That makes your premise with them false. You cannot have both, not with outstanding players. This only makes sense to anyone who has taken the blue pill.

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm sorry I didn't quite understand your rebuttal.

Priest Fontaine 7 years, 5 months ago

Don't forget Hunter Mickelson. He's a 6'10" 250 lb. shot blocker

Joe Ross 7 years, 5 months ago

I dont know if Joel Embiid will stay or go. Im not even REALLY sure what is in his best interest. But I know that the case Keegan has made (namely, that Embiid should turn pro because we as fans are "selfish") is complete and utter hogwash. What I would like to see is SOME LINE OF REASONING that compares the benefits of his staying versus the benefits of his leaving. After all, the issue at the heart of decision is what's in his best interest as a person and a player.

Brandon Mahon 7 years, 5 months ago

Embiid now has a press conference at 2 oclock tomorrow

Ian Emerson 7 years, 5 months ago

Joels press conference is at 2 tomorrow everyone!

Josh Youle 7 years, 5 months ago

Here's the reason for staying. What does he ultimately want to accomplish in his professional career? If he wants to get paid and be set then by all means he should go. If he has personal aspirations of becoming one of the all time great centers then he should come back. He should gain 25lbs, he should play with a 4 man with a huge motor that will push him to get better, he should continue to learn to play against defenses that are set to stop him. It's difficult to get to the biggest stage and then learn to dominate, if that's what he ultimately wants that's why he should come back. Nerlens Noel blew out his knee and was still a top 10 pick, and be measured 6'10 and weighed light. Joel has way more upside so worst case, even a big injury and he could be a top 10 pick and future project. Best case he comes back, Alexander's motor rubs off on him a little, he and Hudy spend alot of time together and he becomes one of the best centers in recent memory.

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