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Friday, June 27, 2014

KU center surprised by No. 3 selection

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Former Kansas University center Joel Embiid had no inside information regarding his draft stock entering Thursday’s 2014 NBA Draft.

“I actually knew when they called my name,” the 7-footer from Cameroon said on Friday’s Dan Patrick/ESPN radio show.

Sitting in front of a TV in the house of agent Arn Tellem in Los Angeles, Embiid and his parents applauded wildly when commissioner Adam Silver announced that he’d been selected No. 3 overall by Philadelphia.

“I thought with the latest injury I was going to drop to maybe top 15, maybe second round,” added Embiid, who had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot the week before the draft. “People were talking everywhere, on social media. I bought into that.

“I was also listening to my agent. He told me good things. I mean I thought I was going to drop to second round. I was kind of surprised they took me at 3,” Embiid noted.

Embiid was involved in a brief controversy on Twitter through no fault of his own. ESPN’s delayed feed showed a somber Embiid after the Sixers’ pick was announced. The problem was Embiid actually broke into a big smile and pumped his fists after the announcement was made. The network showed the actual clip of Embiid rejoicing to clear up any confusion.

“I didn’t look happy but it was because of the TV delay. I was happy. People were going crazy. I was excited. It was the tape delay,” he said.

Embiid, whose back problems ended his first and only college season prematurely, explained how he hurt his foot so close to the draft.

“I went to a workout and at the end I just felt a little pain. I didn’t know what was going on. I told my agent. The next day we went to the hospital. We did an MRI and X-rays and they found out I had a stress fracture,” Embiid said.

What occurred during the workout?

“I was playing 1-on-1 on the post against some people,” he explained, noting he was injured in a drill.

The Sixers said on Friday Embiid would likely miss between five and eight months of basketball. Embiid said he hasn’t been told an exact time frame.

“I look forward to playing against all the bigs in the league,” Embiid said, noting he especially is looking forward to playing against Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. “I know I’m going to get better. Since I started working out again this summer, I think I’ve gotten so much better (before) this setback.”

On the lighter side, Patrick asked Embiid — if he had a choice — would he rather be a star pro soccer player or basketball player. Embiid grew up playing soccer (midfielder and defender) and volleyball in Cameroon.

“I would probably choose soccer,” Embiid said. “Soccer players are more famous than basketball players. They get more money. They have all this, everything. I think soccer is better, but basketball you’ve got to be a man to play basketball. I don’t think these soccer guys can (play hoops),” he added with a laugh.

Regarding all the flopping in soccer, Embiid joked: “They flop so much, man. I’ve been watching the World Cup. I’m like, they need to fine them every time someone flops.”

Patrick clearly enjoyed the interview, bursting into laughter several times in talking to the affable big man.

Philly’s take: Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie on Embiid’s recovery time as reported by Philly.com: “I’ve seen (it was) reported some four to six months. That’s not the number I heard. The number I heard from the surgeon himself was five to eight months. We will focus on the long-term health of the player. That’s all that matters. Will we be smart about that? Of course. Will we be patient? Yes. If he can remain healthy he can have a fantastic NBA career.”

Oops: Former KU guard Andrew Wiggins, who was selected No. 1 in the draft, had his introductory news conference Friday in Cleveland. Cavs play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod made a mistake in introducing Wiggins.

“We’d like to if we can welcome the newest member of the Cleveland Cavaliers — along with general manager David Griffin and head coach David Blatt — let’s say hello to Mitchell Wiggins,” McLeod said.

Mitchell Wiggins is Andrew’s dad who played several years in the NBA.

“Excuse me. I go back (as a long-time broadcaster) ... Mitchell you want to make a comeback?” McLeod joked. “Andrew Wiggins, come on Andrew (to podium),” he added to laughter in the room.

Self tapped sixth: KU coach Bill Self has been named the sixth best college coach in the country in ESPN’s summer survey conducted by an ESPN panel. The poll ranks coaches not for their full body of work, but as to how they are faring today.

“By the time his career is over, we might consider Bill Self the best coach in University of Kansas basketball history,” writes ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan. “That’s a bonkers statement to make, considering Self’s KU ancestors. Fortunately, his tenure at the school has been equally bonkers. The only season in which Self hasn’t won or shared the Big 12 title at Kansas was his first one, when his team finished tied for second — slacker — and ended the year in the Elite Eight. That was 2003-04. Every year since, Self’s Jayhawks have finished first or tied for first in the Big 12.

“This is insane in and of itself. The only equivalent we’ve seen in recent years was Gonzaga’s decade-plus run of championships in the West Coast Conference, which is a vastly smaller league with yearly challengers. Gonzaga is an outlier. Kansas is doing it under Self in a major league, against big programs with big budgets, against wave after wave of serious NBA talent. No matter what the situation, no matter the personnel on his roster, Self’s teams have finished first.”

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