Self: Embiid would have been focus

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Joel Embiid declares for NBA Draft

Kansas University freshman center Joel Embiid, with KU coach Bill Self by his side, announces he will enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

Joel Embiid reveals he learned how to drive

During Joel Embiid's press conference to announce his decision to enter the NBA Draft, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self discovers the freshman center recently learned how to drive.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self: Joel Embiid a 'guaranteed' top-five pick in NBA Draft

After Kansas University freshman center Joel Embiid announced he was entering the NBA Draft, KU coach Bill Self said it was a difficult decision for the 7-footer because he "loves it here," but Embiid made the right choice as he is "guaranteed" to be one of the top five picks.

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Reader poll

If you had the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, who would you take?

  • Joel Embiid, Kansas 63% 1368 votes
  • Dante Exum, Australia 1% 23 votes
  • Jabari Parker, Duke 8% 181 votes
  • Julius Randle, Kentucky 4% 104 votes
  • Andrew Wiggins, Kansas 20% 431 votes
  • Other 1% 39 votes

2146 total votes.

Joel Embiid would have been the focal point of Kansas University’s basketball team his sophomore season ... had the 7-footer from Cameroon stuck around for a sophomore season.

“I think he could do anything,” KU coach Bill Self said of the 20-year-old Embiid, who Wednesday declared for the 2014 NBA Draft. “He could be our best pick-and-pop guy. He could be maybe our best passer. He would have had many opportunities to show what he could do. If you saw him practice on a daily basis, you’d be amazed on how quick he picks stuff up. I think with a little bit of time he can do a little bit of everything, a lot of everything.”

He’ll be a traditional post player in the NBA following his one-and-done college season.

“It’s kind of an incomplete deal,” Self said of how Embiid should be remembered.

“Wigs (Andrew Wiggins) has a little different feel. He started from the beginning, and it went to the end, even though it was just one year. Jo ... we didn’t get to see him in games, have him in games that were obviously the most important games of the year (NCAA Tournament). In a lot of people’s minds you could say incomplete.

“The reality is he should be remembered as ... we talked about (Jeff) Withey improving and Cole Aldrich improving. Ain’t nobody’s improved more than this cat from beginning ’til when the season was almost over,” Self added.

Behind the wheel: Embiid reported Wednesday that he has finally learned how to drive a car.

Who taught him?

“One of my friends,” Embiid said, the news coming as a shock to Self.

“You learned how to drive?” Self asked.

“Yeah,” Embiid said.

“Do you have your license?” Self asked again.

“No,” Embiid replied, laughing.

“Great. I’m sure it (driving lesson) was on a country road somewhere, wasn’t it? That way nobody was in harm’s way,” Self deadpanned.

Later, after the news conference, Self told media: “I told him, ‘Jo you need to learn to drive before you leave. Don’t you think that would be a good idea?’ I guess he took me to heart.”

Lion king: A questioner asked if Embiid really killed a lion, as is his legend.

“I think I’ve heard the story, but I don’t know,” Embiid said.

“You don’t know if you did it?” Self interjected. “I can acknowledge you forgetting a phone conversation (with Hakeem Olajuwon), but if you killed a lion, you should at least remember that, I would think.”

“No, I didn’t (kill one),” Embiid said, revealing the truth as his final KU news conference came to a close.

No representation yet: Embiid said he had not yet selected an agent. One published report had agent Arn Tellem as being his representative.

You first: Embiid was asked if he and Wiggins have talked about battling each other for No. 1 spot in the draft.

“No, I talked to him last night, and we’re like really good friends, brothers. Like we say, whoever goes — if we have a chance to go No. 1 or No. 2 — we would be happy for each other,” Embiid said.

Recruiting: KU currently has one scholarship to give. The Jayhawks are in the running for Myles Turner, 6-11 senior from Trinity High in Euless, Texas, who is considering KU, Texas, SMU, Oklahoma State and others. ... KU coach Self on Friday will be traveling to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire to watch 6-2 senior Devonte Graham, who, according to, has been released from his letter of intent by Appalachian State. ESPN says Graham also is considering Virginia, Nebraska, Providence, Xavier, N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Florida State. ... KU reportedly is interested in Maurice Watson Jr., a former Boston University guard, who has decided to transfer after his sophomore season.

Self on KU possibly having the top 2 picks in the draft: “I think it would be cool, without question. ... I think it certainly speaks volumes to our program and certainly our assistant coaches that drill these guys every day and their teammates.”

Where does Embiid want to play in the NBA?: “Whoever picks me, I will be happy,” said Embiid, who was asked by a media member about his playing a game on the Internet as coach of the Golden State Warriors.

“And for the video game, it’s just a video game. I can choose whoever team I want to play with, so I was just playing with Golden State,” said Embiid, who after being asked by Self if he won the game admitted he had Kevin Durant on the squad as well.

“That’s one reason why (you won),” Self said.