Kansas defeats Iona, 86-66

  • 7 p.m., Nov. 19, 2013
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Embiid shines vs. Iona, with father in the stands

Kansas center Joel Embiid takes off to the bucket against Iona forward David Laury during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid takes off to the bucket against Iona forward David Laury during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.



Thomas Embiid, father of Joel Embiid smiles as he talks with media members about watching his son play basketball for the first time. Embiid arrived in Lawrence on a visit from Cameroon shortly before the game.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self says Joel Embiid and Perry Ellis were by far KU's best in win over Iona

Bill Self says Joel Embiid and Perry Ellis were by far KU's best players in win over Iona

Download podcast

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Perry Ellis, Joel Embiid and Frank Mason share their thoughts on KU's 20-point win over Iona

Perry Ellis, Joel Embiid and Frank Mason share their thoughts on KU's 20-point win over Iona

Download podcast

Kansas 86, Iona 66

Box score

Dressed impeccably in suit and tie, Cameroon military man Thomas Embiid sat proudly in Kansas University’s parents’ section Tuesday night, watching his son play basketball for the very first time.

“I am very proud of Joel,” Thomas Embiid said as he descended 10 rows of bleachers behind Iona’s bench after watching his 7-foot son explode for 16 points and 13 rebounds in the Jayhawks’ 86-66 victory over the Gaels in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Before he left Cameroon (in 2011 for high school in U.S.), I watched him play volleyball, but never basketball,” added Thomas, who played professional handball in Yaounde, Cameroon, but also dabbled in soccer and basketball.

“It was very exciting especially in front of all the fans. This is a fantastic public. I have noticed they love Joel. There is a fanclub of Joel (in student section),” Thomas observed.

Joel Embiid was darn near perfect with dad in the stands. The freshman sensation went 7-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 from the line. He also had two blocks in 26 minutes. The only negative stats? Four turnovers.

“I was excited,” Joel said of dad watching him play. “He got in the USA two days ago. He was in Washington. He just got here at 5 or 6 (p.m.). Somebody had to go pick him up (at airport).

“It’s the first time he’s seen me in action, so it was fun.”

Embiid scored eight points off 4-of-4 shooting the first half with four rebounds in 13 minutes as the Jayhawks led, 41-36, at the break.

He helped make up for the foul trouble of senior forward Tarik Black, who played just the first five minutes of the opening half before being seated with two fouls.

“I don’t think I played well because he was there,” Embiid said, noting he was well aware dad would be in the stands. “I just played more confident. I had more confidence.”

KU coach Bill Self was pleased Joel was able to play so well in his debut in front of papa.

“It’s the first time we’ve met him. He was the best-dressed man in the building that’s for sure,” Self said with a smile. “That’s the first basketball game he’s seen. It had to be pretty cool never seeing anything like this and your first experience is Allen Fieldhouse.”

Embiid had an assortment of highlight-reel plays.

In the first half, he drove hard to the goal for a bucket. He also leaped very high to flush a lob from Naadir Tharpe, had a vicious block of Iona’s Daniel Robinson, had a hustle play in which he dove for a loose ball with Iona’s Isaiah Williams on the defensive end.

He also ripped a rebound from the clutches of an Iona player and showed good vision in finding a cutting Andrew White with a pin-point pass in the lane.

“I thought Joel was a definitely a factor in each half,” Self said. “He was good after he got in a flow. It was good to see Joel make some shots. He’s been kind of rushed up to this point (with 11 points and 11 boards total in KU’s first two wins).”

Self has said it was just a matter of time before Embiid had a breakout game.

“He just needs reps. He will look good some days and won’t look good some days,” Self said. “You saw a small glimpse of how good his feet are tonight. He’s smart. He gets it, is figuring stuff out all the time; I’m real pleased with his development. I still think we’re not even scratching the surface.

“He does things in practice ... the ball will be bouncing and he’ll kick the ball to me by doing some soccer move — things 7-footers can’t do, how coordinated he is. I don’t know if he’s the greatest runner or highest jumper. With that length ... he doesn’t take that many strides to get down the floor. I think he has a chance to be a special player.”

His proud dad sounds like a man who realizes he made the smart decision to send Joel to high school in the U.S. Embiid emerged as a top recruit last season at The Rock in Gainesville, Fla.

“It’s a surprise, a good surprise,” Thomas said of his son’s success in hoops. “He came here to improve himself first and do what he wanted to do. After the game I was proud. I told him congratulations to play at a high level.”

The Jayhawks, by the way, put this one away courtesy of a 18-3 run that upped a 64-56 lead at 9:20 to 82-59. Embiid had six points in that run.

Embiid’s dad will stick around for Friday’s 7 p.m., game against Towson before returning home.

“Hey y’all I had a dream.I had a dunk and my dad started running on the floor for the game against Towson — let’s see if it’s happening Friday,” Joel Embiid Tweeted after the game and before leaving the fieldhouse.


John Randall 8 years, 10 months ago

Neither hyper nor a beast. An incredibly composed young man who will have to choose between exceeding Chamberlain and Alcindor in college before doing so in the NBA.

I am just selfish enough to hope he values the experience in AFH and on The Hill enough to make it last longer than this year.

Mike Riches 8 years, 10 months ago

What a fantastic story! How extremely rare that a kid (7 feet tall but a kid nonetheless) is a good enough player to come to Kansas, score 16 points as a freshman in his third game, and his father is able to come watch him for the first time?! Wow. Lion-killer or not, this guy is special!

RJ King 8 years, 10 months ago

Could his Dad be more adorable? Loved the suit amongst the T-shirts. And the little head nods after one of Joel's fluid scores had me grinning ear to ear.

Now please, please assure me there's no "family friend" / agent-wanna-be involved in plane tickets.

Michael Pannacciulli 8 years, 10 months ago

Great kid. Wonder if Hakeem O is watching Joel? Surely he is with a smile! Moluaye (sp?) also!

I can't help getting a little bummed after a game like that knowing that next year he could be a Bobcat or Sun, and not lighting up Allen. Don't begrudge him...just lament what has happened to our game.

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 10 months ago

Niang was from Senegal, and Hakeem for Nigeria. Wouldn't that be sort of like thinking a Kansas kid would get extra love from somebody from Mexico City or Toronto?

Lance Hobson 8 years, 10 months ago

Not really, I wouldn't be surprised if players from Africa cheered for each other. Cameroon is a neighbor of Nigeria and Senegal is in western Africa as well. That said, if a Kansas kid were to show up in Nigeria to play pro bball and someone from Toronto was there, I think they'd get some love from the Canadian. Not sure about the guy from Mexico City but how'd he end up in Nigeria anyway?

Ed Brown 8 years, 10 months ago

Agree, great story. A reminder of all those little things we take for granted. Imagine sending your child to another country so he can "improve". Then to never see him play until the season starts in a huge venue...AFH! Can it really get any better than that?

Embiid will be special. Especially after THE specialists, HCBS and Hudy, have some more input.

Jim Roth 8 years, 10 months ago

Hey Gary, how tall was Dad? He didn't look 7 ft on TV.

Did you ask him about the lion???

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

Do we have Cameroon connections now? All joking aside, there are a lot of tall, muscular, athletic individuals on the African continent.

Matt Gauntt 8 years, 10 months ago

Joel was the player I was most excited about (even more than Wiggins) before the season started. Just can't wait to see what this young man will do with experience. Off to a great start. Sounds like in addition to being a great athlete, he comes from a really good family with a strong foundation. He'll represent us well.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 10 months ago


1] I'm sure I am not alone, but in early November of 1966, I too saw my first college basketball Allen Fieldhouse. To this day, I can still remember the feeling of awe and sense of "this is where I am supposed to be."

2] When Jo Jo made that cross lane finger roll basket, my heart sank.....we all better enjoy every minute of this young man's Jayhawk career because the Fat Lady is warming up and the NBA is in the Opera House!!!

3] GOSH ALMIGHTY!! We're going to win a lot of games this season!!!

4] Things for this team to work on; aggressive defense, help out on opponent penetration, stay close enough to jump out on three point defense, foul shot percentage and dance moves.

5] Come on, Frank Mason is some 22 year old senior who has undergone an identity makeover by the CIA!!

6] I hate to say it, but if he keeps going as he is going, Perry Ellis may also be inserted into item 2 above. Tarik, Andrew, Perry, Wayne, Jo could happen. :(.

7] 2014 starting line up could end up Mason, Vaughn, Turner, Oubre, Alexander with Naadir, Jamari, Conner, AWIII, Brannen off the bench!!!

Tom Gillaspie 8 years, 10 months ago

6] Agree that Perry is looking great and will likely have a great season. Still think he is an NBA 'tweener. Not sure the league will be ready to take a chance on him - yet.

RJ King 8 years, 10 months ago

Number 5 - Agree completely. The kid just ooozes confidence, without seeming cocky. He was mad at himself for that reach in foul after he slipped. On offense, Frank has definitely taken advantage of the new foul rules. Smart kid!

Robert Murphy 8 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate told us this guy was gonna be really good but he underestimated how good. Put together with Ellis and Wiggins this will be the best front line in KU history. Jaybate, are you there? This new sight is pathetic compared to the old one. Who had the stupid idea of changing one of the best college sports blogs in history? Dumb.

Dale Stringer 8 years, 10 months ago

Well I still like the 08 line up a little better. It might be as talented as this year's, but it had an attitude that went with Dirty Hairy's "Do you feel lucky" line. As for the site change - you nailed it. Last year there would be a hundred posts by now. It is twelve hours after the game and now I am making the 13th.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 10 months ago

Robert, Dale, OakvilleJHawk here. I got back on about two weeks ago and my life has not changed one iota and it's great to be back rippin' and roarin' on this site.

We need to get Jaybate, ralster, BigmanU, stupidmichael, PVJayhawk. Paris Jayhawk, drgnslayr and all the other great contributors back onboard. HEM and myself seem to be the only two of the old gang to take the plunge!!

Heck, sometimes our discussions were better than the LJW articles [no offense, are doing a great job].

Steve Gantz 8 years, 10 months ago

I still lurk here Oakville. I agree with Robert though, it's not much fun anymore, maybe it'll build up again to what it was. The live update last night didn't hold my interest.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 10 months ago

Embed is a stud. I don't recall anybody doubting Embed would be a very good player, but more just a matter of when it would click for him and it has already clicked. If his dad is in the military and has a suit that nice, I don't think that money is a big concern for his family. I do believe that Joel Embed will be the best big man the NBA has seen since Hakeem. If Embiid does stay for year 2, he will be the 2014-15 national player of the year and the top pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

Paul Meyer 8 years, 10 months ago

I'm curious if Joel Embiid was initially connected to Kansas through RC Buford? Great article in Grantland earlier this year about Buford and his relationship with the country of Cameroon.

(If this has already be discussed, my apologies.)

RJ King 8 years, 10 months ago

Could be. Texas was one of Embiid's finalists, along with Marquette and Florida. There was a documented connection with M'bah a Moute (sp), and wondering if he might wind up in Marquette, close to the Bucks. And either speculation or confirmation that M'bah actually steered him instead to Kansas as the best opportunity for development.

And btw, great read - thanks for the link.

Ludwig Supraphonic 8 years, 10 months ago

On a somewhat related note. Watched the game on ESPN3. The halftime report featured an interview with Marshall Henderson followed by an interview about recruiting with Calipari. Last year ESPN3 ran a piece with Calipari having a lunch counter chat with Joe B. Hall and boasting about lottery picks. Both were at KU halftimes and served as infomercials for UK. Last night's Calipari promotional was about his devotion to the Mother's who entrusted their offspring to his loving care. Calpari seemed to be responding to the question of academics by directing attention to his NBA placement record. Equal time?

Eliott Reeder 8 years, 10 months ago

I thought the most interesting part was Henderson talking openly about drug dealing, drug use, and counterfeit money. That kid is a little nuts... but I like to watch his antics.

Ludwig Supraphonic 8 years, 10 months ago

Displays a lack of empathy and insight consistant with a character disorder. Glad he's on someone else's team.

Robert Robinson 8 years, 10 months ago

A little off topic but I have to ask. Here for a while people have been bashing the new site. Jaybate and all the other heavy hitters have left. I keep hearing about a policy change. My question is, what changed? Ive been visiting and lightly commenting here for probably 2 years and I cant really tell a difference. I log in, write a comment, hit the post button and move on.

Lance Hobson 8 years, 10 months ago

Who would have thought we'd miss Jaybate after suffering through some of his less distillled rants? Alas, it is true.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.