Former Kansas University center Joel Embiid appears to have recovered fully from the back injury that forced him to miss the 2014 Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments.
“Great workout this morning with lots of influential people in the gym,” Embiid wrote on Twitter after wowing NBA scouts and reporters at an open workout in Santa Monica, Calif.
If teams are convinced he’s healthy, the 7-footer from Cameroon is expected to land in the top three of the NBA draft with KU teammate Andrew Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker.
“Watching Joel Embiid in workout for league executives in Santa Monica. Impossible to imagine passing on him at No. 1,” Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted during the session.
Added ESPN’s Jeff Goodman: “NBA guy on watching Joel Embiid at workout: ‘Looks healthy, quick and explosive.’”
A veteran NBA scout told Zagsblog.com: “I did not see any issues with his back. He looked very agile and athletic.”
“He looks great. Running, jumping, dunking, bent up like a pretzel in warmups and stretching exercises,” another scout told Zagsblog.com. “Had two ex-NBA bigs (Brian Scalabrine and Will Perdue) banging on him underneath. He passed the eyeball test big time. Move him up. He helped himself today.”
It is believed Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, will eventually let teams take a look at Embiid’s current medical records. It’s not known whether Tellem will let teams perform their own MRIs and X-rays on Embiid.
“(Embiid) fared well today,” tweeted ESPN’s Goodman, “but let’s calm down since it was 1-on-0 workout. Still will be about medical tests.”
ESPN’s Chad Ford said Embiid told him “his back is 100 percent. Been working out hard for last three weeks.
“Embiid said he’s gained 15 pounds. Up to 265,” Ford tweeted. “Still getting back into shape. Got a bit winded in workout but still looked quick & explosive.”
Also working out for the scouts Friday were Parker, Marcus Smart, Jerami Grant and Kyle Anderson.
Simmons discusses Embiid: ESPN columnist Bill Simmons revealed that he watched Embiid work out recently “at a secret location in Santa Monica.”
Simmons was impressed.
“He wasn’t playing against anyone, just going through a two-hour workout with Will Perdue. Here’s what I can tell you: He moves around as effortlessly as a 7-foot Serge Ibaka; he’s such an athletic freak that he’s one of those ‘still going up as he’s finishing the dunk’ guys; his freakish wingspan might make Jay Bilas pass out; he has been playing basketball for only four years (which seems impossible); he gave up a world-class volleyball career; he has 3-point range; he can shoot jump-hooks with both hands already; he couldn’t have seemed more coachable/agreeable/likable; he’s a hard worker with a goofy sense of humor; his voice is just a touch Mutombo-y (deep with a heavy African accent); and his friends call him ‘Jo-Jo.’ And again — his back seemed totally fine,” Simmons wrote at Grantland.com.
“News flash: As I said on TV before the lottery, Embiid was always going first. None of these teams was passing on him. Repeat: none of them,” Simmons added. “The amount of smokescreening going on in April and May was high comedy. We keep hearing his back is really screwed up, this could be another Oden situation … Just stop it. This was like sitting at a fantasy football auction next to someone who kept claiming that he wasn’t going to pay big money for a QB … and then, two hours later, he’s bidding $49 for Aaron Rodgers. The truth is, Wiggins and Parker never separated themselves enough this season to warrant anyone saying, ‘We’re passing on a potential franchise center with a good chance of becoming the 7-foot Serge Ibaka.’”
Tarik Black excels: Former KU center Tarik Black scored 13 points off 6-of-6 shooting with nine rebounds in a scrimmage in front of NBA scouts on Wednesday at the Los Angeles Clippers practice facility.
He impressed draftexpress.com’s Mike Schmitz.
“The Kansas player proved to be one of the best big men prospects in the workout, knocking down all six of his field goal attempts while controlling the backboards. Black finished with at least two emphatic dunks, one for an and-1, and one over Okaro White,” Schmitz wrote. “Black also showcased a running right-handed hook. It was clearly Black’s day when he seemingly accidentally banked in a 15-footer from the short corner. The big and physical Black did a great job moving bodies on the defensive glass while defending his position. He doesn’t have many perimeter skills offensively considering he’s a bit undersized at 6-8, but his rebounding and ability to finish through contact around the basket shined through. After a fairly lackluster senior year, and an injury that prevented him from attending the PIT, Black needed a strong showing here, and he certainly came through, which will likely earn him some more NBA workouts.”