Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Notebook: Joel Embiid ‘not thinking’ about NBA right now

Kansas center Joel Embiid, right, draws a foul charge as he drives into Baylor player Rico Gathers during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas center Joel Embiid, right, draws a foul charge as he drives into Baylor player Rico Gathers during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self talks Tharpe, Wiggins, defense after 69-52 victory at Baylor.

Bill Self talks Tharpe, Wiggins, defense after 69-52 victory at Baylor.

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Box score

— Kansas University freshman Joel Embiid caused quite a stir on Tuesday when he told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman he was strongly considering returning to school for his sophomore season.

So what’s up with that, Joel?

“As the season goes ... my development physically, mentally if I feel like I’m ready I’m going to leave (for NBA),” Embiid told reporters after scoring five points off 1-of-6 shooting in KU’s 69-52 win over Baylor in Ferrell Center.

“Right now I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about winning the Big 12 and the national championship. I’ll start thinking about it when we win here.”

As far as returning being an intriguing possibility, Embiid said: “I mean, like I said, I am not thinking about that yet. I could come back, but I am not thinking about that right now.”

KU coach Bill Self said the whole topic is ridiculous.

“The whole thing about the report ... what else could Joel say?” Self said. “If anybody thinks that (ESPN report) is breaking news, they don’t understand it because there is a chance he could come back. There is a chance Jabari (Parker) could come back. There is a chance (Aaron) Gordon could come back. There is a chance Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins) could come back. There is always a chance that somebody could come back. I will say this: Joel will not make his decision based on money. He’ll make it on, is he prepared?”

Asked about his sprained knee, Embiid said: “It feels good. The brace (he wears) helps it. I have to wear it. I wear it for protection.”

KU’s players did not fly back to Kansas via charter after the game.

“We’re stuck here. We’re staying tonight,” Self said, not wanting to fight the snow.

“I’m glad we’re staying,” said center Tarik Black. “No need to take off with all that snow.”

Injuries: Senior Justin Wesley did not suit up because of a knee injury. Self said he’s day to day. He was hurt at practice Monday. Self said Conner Frankamp (knee) could have played in the game.

Vaughn to decide: Rashad Vaughn, a 6-foot-5 senior shooting guard from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., will announce his college choice on Saturday, reported on Tuesday afternoon.

Vaughn, who has a final list of UNLV, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina earlier Tuesday Tweeted, “Will be Announcing my decision this weekend!”

Vaughn, who is originally from Minnesota, has visited Iowa State and UNLV.’s No. 7-rated player nationally has canceled a visit to North Carolina that was set for Feb. 15.

“I have already been there on a visit and my family and the UNC staff have a close relationship,” he told

KU is considered a long shot at best to land Vaughn.

“Good bet it will be either Iowa State or UNLV,” said Jon Rothstein of College Basketball Insider CBS Sports Network.

BU’s travel woes: Baylor’s basketball team was happy to be home Tuesday after encountering some travel problems en route to last Saturday’s game at Oklahoma State. On Friday, the Bears’ charter plane was re-routed from Stillwater to Oklahoma City where the team had to wait an hour and a half for a bus to drive to Stillwater, Okla.

On Saturday morning, the team bus malfunctioned and plodded 5 mph to Gallagher-Iba Arena, the Waco Tribune reported. 

Baylor went on to win the game, 76-70.

“Everything that could go wrong. ...” coach Scott Drew said. “Everything that looked like we’d be in trouble kept happening. I’ve never been on a bus when the light turns green you are hoping to make it through the intersection before it turns red.

“That was a different experience. The team bonded together. When you have adversity like that, you can use it as an excuse or rise up. I thought our guys stuck together and took the challenge, didn’t use any excuses, took it as an opportunity to show their heart. As a coach, you are proud and happy when guys lay it on the line and are rewarded with a win.”

Slow starting Bears: Baylor entered Tuesday’s game with a 2-6 league mark.

“The difference between the Big 12 this year is in years past you’d have two to three teams having down years or struggling where you could get healthy and get four to six wins and not play good ball,” Drew said. “This year, if you don’t play good basketball, you will not win any conference games. The margin of error is not there for a lot of teams. (It’s) the parity of the Big 12. We got off to a great start in non-conference. In conference we’ve struggled. We hope to finish on high note and each day get better.”

BU sophomore Isaiah Austin spoke to the Journal-World at Big 12 Media Day about KU.

“Their fans are amazing. Any time you can pack out a home game all the time is crazy,” said the 7-footer from Arlington, Texas. “We have nothing but respect for the Jayhawks.

“They haven’t lost a Big 12 title in years. It’s always our goal to go in there and try to beat them. It’s all competitive. At the end of the day we’re cool off the court. On the court we like to battle.”

Asked about the publicity surrounding frosh Andrew Wiggins, Austin, who was ranked No. 4 nationally in the Class of 2012 by, said: “He’s deserving of it. He had a great high school career. I’ve seen his highlights. He’s a great player. I don’t look at publicity like that. I just play basketball. I’m not into all that media, getting hype and all that.”

Big 12 tickets: Tickets for the 2014 Big 12 basketball championship go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m., Friday, online only, at A special pre-sale is scheduled for Sprint Center’s “Connection Newsletter” subscribers at 10 a.m., Thursday. Each ticket includes all sessions for the four-day tourney, slated for March 12-15, in KC’s Sprint Center.


Dale Kroening 8 years, 10 months ago

I know theres a lot of the season left and a lot can happen, but anyone think this talk hurts our chances with Turner?? Id rather have Embiid, but I dont see him staying more than 2 seasons. Thoughts?

Tim Marshall 8 years, 10 months ago

Turner is likely one and done. Since they'd both probably stay through next year only, I'd rather have a sophomore Embiid than a freshman Turner.

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

I'd rather have both from a team standpoint, but I get what you're saying. Totally. And you are 100% correct.

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

The fact is, if Embiid stayed it would be a great decision. If he goes, you can't blame him and you have to wish him well. But realistically, he's still going to be a top-3 pick next year by virtue of his size and athletic ability. What this really does is to show the maturity of a young kid who has the good sense to give heavy consideration to the fact that he is new to the game and has a lot of room to improve. Being such a novice there is NO QUESTION that getting the fundamentals down in college will be easier to do than trying to improve while facing the world-class elite athletes of the NBA. Yes, Jayhawk fans will be ecstatic if he chooses to stay on campus, but the truth is I'd be overjoyed for Joel. I'm excited about his chances to improve his game, to work toward reaching his potential, and playing at the next level full of confidence that he can be the polished, dominant force we all know he can be.

Selden should be a definite lock to return. Won't mention a lot about it.

Wiggins is a hard decision. Again, I can't blame him either way. But if he's my son, I try to convince him to stay.

  1. He's just turned 19. It's not like he's 22 and wasting 3 years.
  2. His game could use the improvement, and college is the best place to achieve a comfort level based on the same reasoning as above.
  3. The money and his position will still be there next year.
  4. Speaking of money, he and his family don't need it.
  5. Developing that "dominating mentality" is easier to do in college than in the NBA and once gotten it will transfer well to the next level.
  6. MAKING it to the NBA and PRODUCING there are two different things. Wiggins is not ready to shoulder a scoring load in the league.
  7. Psychologically, college is preparatory. There is no real pressure while you're learning. But once you're receiving a paycheck for your skills, you better damn well live up to your value. Wiggins would do well to follow the path of one Harrison Barnes and get some more experience and confidence under his belt in college, and then go and knock it out in the pros.

Again, Wiggins does not hurt himself by staying. If he goes early, he just might. I will absolutely wish him the best if he goes. Certainly. But all things considered, I don't believe it to be in HIS best interest. McLemore was a different story. One, he was at Kansas for two years. Two, he needed the money. I argued that based on these two things, he should leave and enter the draft early. Wiggins can LITERALLY afford to take his time. There is no hurry whatsoever in his case. None whatsoever.

Phil Leister 8 years, 10 months ago

The thing nobody really talks about is the lifestyle change when a guy goes to the NBA. Joel has only lived in this country a couple years, he can't drive a car, and he's still very much a kid. Now throw him into a schedule with more than twice as many games, travelling and living the majority of your time with grown a$$ men, with all the different pressures and responsibilities of being an adult on his own with loads of money. The actual basketball aspect of being an NBA player is only one piece. So even if he were ready to physically play with and beat the big boys, it still might not be the best choice for him to leave. Lots to consider.

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

During the live game discussion I said that Embiid (and the others) should stay. Some agreed with me; others thought I was crazy. Evidently Embiid doesn't. And I can tell you this much: doubt in Wiggins' head has at least made him think twice. And seeing/hearing that Embiid--also a very high draft pick projection--might stay, Andrew will think about it three times. Wiggins' need is not significantly increased above Embiid's. And here's the big news. With both of them being on the same team, Wiggins might better be able to deflect some of the shock of announcing a return himself if Embiid stays, and if he were leaning toward it. Wiggins is so young that he hears that he should go (from fans, pundits, and soon agents) and is easily influenced into thinking he should jump. But he is in the eye of the storm, and hopefully calmer, more level-headed thinking is available to him who will at least encourage him to consider the option of staying to develop his game.

Phil Leister 8 years, 10 months ago

The only thing about Wiggins is he's been up front with the fact that he plans on this being his one year in college. So a part of him has already made the decision. Embiid, though, has never said anything like that. Hell, a year ago at this time he was still unranked as a HS player. Talk about a meteoric rise.

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

Phil. A great point. I think Wiggins wants to make the jump. However, any comments he made basically amounts to a "verbal commitment" to leaving. But there is nothing obligatory about entering the draft this year. This particular comment Im leaving is actually more recent than ones I left below where I said I believe Wiggins WILL go. My above comments are simply to argue the merits of staying. But again, probably not likely.

Bryce Landon 8 years, 10 months ago

Embiid has had two straight bad games. No way he should think about the NBA. He should think about getting his game back on track.

Gerry Butler 8 years, 10 months ago

ok, so if that's our train of thought then I guess theres NO WAY Andrew should be thinking about the NBA either then huh? how many games has he had I mean it takes a almost a 3/4 length shot at the end of the half for him to score his first points of the game Andrew is not even a part of the game a lot of the time, like he isn't even there 2 games does NOT BY ANY MEANS mean jo jo is not ready for the NBA at least talent wise you don't have to believe, listen, or whatever to me just ask your NBA scouts that's all you gotta do and I think they may maybe, just maybe know a little more about that then us, that's why their at where their at , and we are where we are. agreed he has had a couple of bad games as you say but that by far doesn't mean he is not ready, but if you wanna say he is not reay cool then neither is Andrew plain and simple. actually there a lot of individuals that think jo jo is a higher pick right now then wiggins just sayin GO HAWKS

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

This post amounts to histrionics and is pre-loaded with excess emotion rather than logic. First of all, no one says that Andrew should not be thinking about the NBA. Embiid's situation is not Wiggins', though arguments can rationally be made for each one staying. On the score of Embiid, just this morning on First Take, the opinion was given that Embiid's return was a smart decision. NBA Scouts are not exactly an unbiased group, because they want players on their team. They would rather get a player with a lot of potential who has a ways to go than to miss on him completely: the proverbial bird in the hand, whereas Embiid is destined to be two in the bush. In other words, what is best for their NBA team is not necessarily what's best for the player. As these guys have no obligation to submit themselves prostrate before the scouts, reason demands that we consider what is best for THEM, rather than to the whims of the scouts. At the collegiate level, players have more control over their future; whereas in the pros their freedom is determined by contracts and through legal maneuverings of their agents and teams. If a player has pause before surrenduring those freedoms, one can blame him no more than one could if he decided to make the jump. As far as the couple of bad games in a row being the reason for staying, I DO actually agree with you that that's a ridiculous notion. Players have bad games at every level, and there is no immunity from that. But Embiid's and Wiggins' overall performance can stand to be improved. Wiggins has had great games, yes. But at a time of year where freshmen round out into shape, he has been prone to disappearing. And since it's not necessary that he jump now, he should consider the humble yet wise possibility of staying. I ask you, "What does he have to lose?" Time? The kid just turned 19. If anything, he could increase his longevity AND dollar amount on his contracts by being ready to PRODUCE in the NBA, thereby negating any arguments which presuppose he's losing out. It happens all the time where kids who aren't fully ready enter the pros thinking they will improve and they DONT. So dont kid yourself. Besides that, he's not hurting for the money. What is the hurry, indeed! This is complete and utter nonsense, the way people have been conditioned to assume that kids of a certain talent level should just make the jump regardless of the context of their situation. The fact of the matter is, Andrew is not as ready as he COULD be, and if you find that fact uncomfortable then you should do more work on squaring your perspective with reality.

Dale Stringer 8 years, 10 months ago

Alexander and Oubre

What if Wiggs and Joel both stay? What are we going to do? As is understand it, we have one guaranteed scholarship next year from Black. We have Alexander and Oubre coming in. With Wiggs AND Joel staying we are one short, aren't we?

Who would give up their scholarship/transfer? And we'd really be loaded so who might redshirt?

Tony Bandle 8 years, 10 months ago

RULE #1..A redshirt still counts as a scholarship. Therefore, there would have to be a transfer to open up another schollie.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 10 months ago

PS sorry..I didn't read your comment knew that. :)

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 10 months ago

If Wiggs stayed, but we all know he isn't let's go hypothetical, since we do that all the time. The question comes, who will get lost in the shuffle in the rotation and the first name that comes to mind is Andrew White. Sadly, we haven't been able to see much of his potential, but I am sure he has to be feeling frustrated with how things are playing out. Honestly, I can see him transferring somewhere for a better opportunity either way. Now, let's say Oubre isn't ready to start then it comes down to either Greene or White starting at the 3 and once again if Greene were to win the battle I can see White leaving. A lot still has to play out for next year because if Joel stays then Alexander is coming off the bench and I bet he didn't see that coming because Joel and Perry will be starting, which would leave us Traylor and Alexander as the probably first big men off the bench with Hunter and Lucas waiting in the wings.

Adam James 8 years, 10 months ago

Let's first focus our efforts on winning a title this year and then get excited about going for a repeat when Jo Jo comes back next year. So.... It looks like Self is pretty sure of his rotation at this point with Greene, Black, Traylor, Mason getting minutes off the bench. Anybody notice how our veteran(2nd team) players did a much better job attacking the zone than our first group of young guys vs.BU. If we plan on winning it all this year our 1st group needs to get better at attacking 1/2 court zone and zone presses. Otherwise we will run into a team and turn the ball over way too much and not shoot well enough to win. I truly believe this is our biggest weakness this year and if we can solve it we will be back in the Final Four.

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

Just for the record, I dont see Wiggins staying. I think it would be great for him, for all the reasons above. But the truth is, I dont see it happening. If it DID, however, I see White being pushed out the door, if need be. But Wesley is a senior this year, and I believe he's on a scholarship. That would be two spots. The way kids get pushed out is simply that the coach tells them he recommends a transfer, because he doesn't see them fitting into the rotation. That would be sad if it happened to anyone, especially for kids who have worked hard in the system. But riding the pines year after year is usually enough to get them to decide on their own that they want to transfer.

I have argued for Wiggins staying for HIS benefit. It would also be in Kansas' interest if he stayed obviously, but it ALSO creates the problem that Dale mentioned above. OVERCROWDING. And that's just on the front end. Eventually, there could be a mass exodus all at once of a lot of talent. If Wiggins, Embiid and Selden all stay, for example, we could see them all leave in 2015. But Tharpe would also be gone, and potentially Alexander and Oubre as OADs. Also, with that kind of talent, a push deep into the tournament field is very likely; and players are perhaps more likely (vs. less) to leave when a team accomplishes a lot (e.g., winning a national title). All of this is more than mere speculation. In 2012 Kentucky won the national championship and was decimated by departures such that in 2013 they lost in the first round...of the ROBERT MORRIS...on their home floor.

Kansas has made big strides in recruiting, but managing the personnel is very tricky. First you have to get them to sign knowing there are other talented players around them, possibly limiting their playing time. Then you have the problem of having to reload quickly. Maybe Coach Self favors a two-year rule for this reason. I don't know. All programs have problems, but these are the kinds of problems you want to have from an institutional standpoint. Again, it would be best for Wiggins personally to return. I don't think he will. But whether he stays or goes there will be both pros and cons from the team's perspective.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 10 months ago

What Joel has going for him is supportive parents and a level head on his shoulders. He is looking long term and I think whichever choice he makes, will be based on what we wants to accomplish in his career in the NBA. The risks and the rewards are quite obvious.

What I like about the discussion going on is you can see both sides and both have merit. I do not think that there is a clear cut choice for him. He has to weigh where he is in his development, to him, at the end of the season. I think he will be quick about deciding too.

Regarding how it effects Turner's decision, I think it goes like this - Joel stays Turner heads somewhere else, he said Self told him its a waste of time to come if Joel is here, which is great of Self. Joel leaves, we have a good chance for Turner, but its just a chance. Would be sweet, but not crucial for Turner to join us.

Worst case, Joel leaves, and we do not get Turner. We are "left" with Traylor, Lucas, Hunter, Ellis with two explosive new wings to replace Andrew and Joel. Its not like the cupboard is bare.

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

We disagreed during the live game discussion on various points, but I think you make a great case here. Rock chalk.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 10 months ago

Yes we did disagree. I just wanted to clear up why, and I am glad you had a chance to read and reply. Did not mean any disrespect, just did not seem as clear cut as it might appear. Have a lot of respect for you Joe.

Nancy Borst 8 years, 10 months ago

So why isn't AWIII getting more playing time? Did I miss something?

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 10 months ago

He got hurt for a few weeks and during that time Greene passed him by and earned a spot. At this point the 9 man rotation seems to be set in stone and I am okay with it. We need to develop fluidity among the guys playing. I feel bad for AWIII, but sometimes you get bad breaks, but if he stays maybe next year. Until then, need to focus on this year and let things play out.

Joe Ross 8 years, 10 months ago

Coach Self doesn't make it a habit of consulting me on decisions, but I'm fine with the rotation, too. I really don't see Andrew White getting much PT next year either, unless it's like a scab role until the newbies come along. Bill Self's recruiting machine is becoming a juggernaut, and the roster is becoming increasingly loaded with talent. Damn shame because I love Andrew. But with Greene coming along, Oubre coming in, Selden a likely returner...I mean, what can you say? Even next year Andrew is really going to have to fight.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 10 months ago

AW3 isnt getting playing time because Greene is slightly better. 30ish recruit overtook 50ish ranked recruit. Quicker feet, quicker shooter, and pure shooting form. The few minutes AW3 has been in, he hasnt hit his 3att like Greene has in his few minutes. Yes, AW3 has a great 3 stroke, but Greene produced a bit more (lately...Greene was herky jerky 2 mos ago, much more under control now.). The other tendency SelfHimself has to fight is his love for a 7-8 man rotation...We are definitely a 9deep team already with Traylor, Black, Greene, Mason off the bench.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 10 months ago

Except for the title team in 2008 Self hasn't had this much depth so it is best to go with a 9 man rotation. I have always been a big fan of bringing 2 bigs and 2 guards off the bench. Look at Arizona that was going with a 7 man rotation and now with their starting small forward out they have to bring someone in who hasn't been in the rotation who may not be ready to produce.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 10 months ago

Sad for Baylor, but they didnt compete or stick to their game plan. In AFH, I gained some respect for them, as Drew said they would battle, be tough, and they were. They battled us hard in Lawrence. But after a few minutes of taking it inside against KU's bigs in Waco, especially after Texas showed the world the blueprint to beat KU, they quit and started shooting 3s. Then Heslip got gameplanned by Self at halftime, and that was it for Baylor. I dont buy Drew's explanation of BigXII parity, which sounded too much like a cop out, saying you "dont have get-healthy games anymore" against soft foes. The reason I dont buy it is that Baylor has top 25 talent, everybody thinks so...they even beat Kentucky. So are they actually regressing? He was supposed to have one of the top 4 teams in the conference, and they didnt play like it. They got beat at home by TubbyTechies. Tubby Smith's coaching vs. Scot Drew's coaching.

At least we saw first hand how DEAD and quiet the Ferrell Center was, even in the first half against KU, when it was an even score. Lost 4 straight at home is a serious problem, for a supposed top25-talent team. All the fingers are now pointing at one person.

Ashwin Rao 8 years, 10 months ago

You don't have to take the blame, Erich! ;)

Jack Wilson 8 years, 10 months ago

While I think there are a lot of reasons guys should stay, if you are a lottery pick, you should go. We can make all of the rational arguments, but that big old pile of money on the other side of the scale wins. Too many things that might go wrong, including injury. How close was Embiid to a torn ACL?

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 10 months ago

HEM, I have always agreed with the logic that if you are lotto, you go. The % chance of being in the top 15 picks is so small & the payoff so big, that it really is called Lottery for a reason....

But, regarding Embiid's serious lack of experience, and very young age--> it gave me pause in his specific case to consider further:

1)Embiid's rapid improvement is only because of his inexperience. He is making up for lost time.

2) 6'6 guys w/hops=common. We've seen plethora of the-next-MJ, so its a tired-out dead phrase now. But how often do they say "the next Olajuwon"? Not very. Agile, athletic, graceful 7footers with footwork simply are RARE as hen's teeth. My major point here is that even next year, Joel Embiid will remain an ultra rare, gifted 7footer, who has only gotten better. 7ft Embiid will STILL be a hot commodity next year--Supply and demand laws will still apply.

3) And he may get bigger yet: weight. Imagine 'Biid at 265-270. He is currently 10lbs heavier than TRob, but still gets pushed around due to center-of-mass differences and lower body strength. He a 18yr old kid. Hudy has a PhD for this. With his physique-type, it will be determined what type of weight and strength regimen is best for him. Man, just sticking around for a year more of HudyScience could pay BIG dividends for the young man's future health and pro career longevity, right?

4) The Knee. Just stepping on a kids foot, caused that freaky ugly knee buckle. He will face grown men 25-35yrs old in the NBA, who know all kinds of leverage tricks. Embiid may get tossed around like he did in Austin. Kid could get hurt. T

5) Coaching: He plays in a highly-respected big-man-featuring offense, coached by a guy (Self) who routinely gets more out of his bigmen than anyone would have thought. Embiid would do well to continue his "basketball studies" at the University of KS, right where he is. Self is also famous (or infamous) for instilling the proper mindset in his bigs. Just ask the formerly-known-as-soft Twins. Turned into lotto picks. TRob couldnt stay on the floor his first 1.2seasons, but turned him into a top5 lotto pick. We are seeing Jamari possibly about to surpass Darnell Jackson (in the project-beg category). That whole thing about pros teaching what they want, and a kid will continue to improve may or may not apply in the pros (see Julian Wright and DJackson), but you can call Self's bigman tutelage at KU special enough to suggest Embiid will continue to learn what the pros want right here at KU (not other schools). Of course, not to sound homerish, because any school with a good track record of developing bigs would serve equally well in this capacity. There arent that many.

6)Personally, of course I'd love to see Embiid in a ku jersey another year, but mostly I just dont think he is ready physically or mentally, nor nowhere near experienced enough to make the pro transition. Even Embiid senses this, it is clear.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 10 months ago

If Embiid leaves and we don't land Turner, then we still have Traylor, Lucas, Mickelson, Ellis and Alexander. None are a true center, but Self did win a championship with two PFs (Shady, DBlock) in 2008 essentially havind two Centers on the bench (Sasha, Cole).

Self likes a 4 man rotation for his Bigs, but knowing what I know of the 5, Self would likely force himself to use all 5 guys with some regularity. I could very well see a basic rotation of Ellis, Cliff, Traylor, and Lucas. However Mickelson's reputation is that he's a proficient shot blocker. I can't see coach leaving his best shot blocker out of the game plan. So I would expect him to play Mickelson based on matchups. He would likely be in there against a team that has driving guards, or against a team that has too much length inside for the first 4 bigs to guard.

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