Thursday, March 27, 2014


Column: For our sakes, Embiid should stay at KU


I hope that Kansas University freshman center Joel Embiid returns for a second year. My motives are pure, as in purely selfish.

Another year with Embiid at center, and the chances of a KU Final Four run increase greatly. I love covering the tournament, especially the Final Four. So don’t think of yourself, Joel, think of me. Come back, come back, come back to where you still belong. Come back, Jo Jo.

He returns, and the never-dull Allen Fieldhouse crowd watching the remarkably graceful, skilled, Hall of Fame-bound 7-footer from Cameroon roars louder than a Beatles audience.

Since it’s all about me, I hope that Embiid buys the nonsense that so many seem to believe, which is that he can’t possibly improve as an NBA player. You’ve heard it: “The only place to develop his body and skills is in college. He’s not ready!” That might have merit with low-level prospects, but when an NBA franchise invests an extremely valuable high draft pick, plus millions in compensation, it takes big steps to develop that player’s body and game. It protects and nurtures its investment.

All projections have Embiid going off the NBA draft board in the top three selections in the draft. Can’t do better than that. He could do worse next year in the event he encounters more back woes and it makes teams skittish, but that’s a minimal risk for Embiid and no risk at all for me.

All parents want their sons and daughters to pursue careers they love and for them to get well-compensated. That’s why so many help to finance their children’s educations. The NBA’s ready to pay Embiid to play basketball and will prepare him to do it well. “College degree required” is not in the job description.

I hope that he so enjoys life as a college basketball player that he delays starting the meter. My life is far more interesting with him in a KU uniform for as many as 40 more games than if he went to the NBA, which I don’t cover. He must stay. I’m not ready to see him go.


Casey Gee 8 years, 4 months ago

I have very selfish reasons too. Embiid is such an incredible player to watch, I really wish we had another year with him in a KU jersey.

Craig Carr 8 years, 4 months ago

Given I was in school the 4 years Danny played, I can say Joel is the closest I have seen to greatness since that time. Danny returned only because his father said he wasn't ready and maybe we will all get the same outcome here. Either way, having the opportunity to see Joel play for a short time was great.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 4 months ago

Actually, I think it had more to do with Danny's mother saying get your degree, but who really knows.

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 4 months ago

Don't you have to put Paul Pierce on that short list?

Walter Bridges 8 years, 4 months ago

Paul stayed 3 years, LaFrentz, Hinrich and Nick Collison stayed 4...I think those days are mostly over

Jeffrey Nelson 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm baffled that someone got paid to write this.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 4 months ago

Sarcasm doesn't come across well in print, but it's still funny that you don't see TK poking fun at all the bloggers explaining why Jo should/shouldn't go.

Len Shaffer 8 years, 4 months ago

I actually found it entertaining. I'm baffled as to why you're so critical.

Steve Zimmerman 8 years, 4 months ago

What if... a big IF.. then we'll most likely win another NCAA trophy...if nobody gets injured.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 4 months ago

Not Soon Enough...

Go make yourself and your family wealthy while playing the game you love. There are a lot more than 2 choices out there JoJo, many choose other options and you can always go back and get your degree or help the needy in your home country when you want to step away from the game at the OLD age of 35 or so.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 4 months ago

I think Joel needs to go. It would be great to see him here next year but he is ready enough for the NBA. I would think he has reservations about how the season ended for him but hopefully it all works out in the end he decides to go. Selfishly I hope that means we get Turner, but if that does not work maybe we can get lucky and find a 5th year PG transfer who can run the Ferrari of a team we will have next year. We are a good PG away of being great next year.

Bryce Landon 8 years, 4 months ago

Joel should stay. He never got the chance to play in the Tournament because of (A) his injuries and (B) his teammates' lousy defense without him. He needs to come back and lead us to championship glory.

W Keith Swinehart II 8 years, 4 months ago

Best reason to stay: Don't grow up too fast. Enjoy being a kid while you can. It doesn't work later.

Theresa McCulley 8 years, 4 months ago

According to Joel, Yahoo doesn't know what they're talking about.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 4 months ago

Embiid was not medically cleared to play in that game.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 4 months ago

JoJo shouldn't have even been at the game. It was nothing less than a sideshow watching him pace nervously back and forth as his final chance to play college ball slipped away. The focus should have been on those players who were actually playing.

Rob Chestnut 8 years, 4 months ago

The only chance of Joel staying is draft position. His injuries could drop him from No. 2 to maybe No. 4 or No. 5. His guaranteed money over the first 3 years (3rd year option) drops over 25% with a move down 3 slots. I am sure everyone involved is evaluating this situation, and that will ultimately determine whether he stays or not.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 4 months ago

hypothetically, and without looking up the rookie pay scale, if he goes pro this year which it looks like will happen and he gets drafted not number 1 so say that makes a $5,000,000 difference over three years than if he were #1. But in year 4 he earns a long-term contract worth $7,000,000 a year. So by June 2018 he's earned a total of $17,000,000. If he stays at KU one more year and gets the #1 pick next year and the max rookie contract then by June 2018 he's only earned $15,000,000. Not to mention gaining interest for a full extra year, it makes more sense to go to the NBA now if you can only improve your rookie contract by 25% by returning.

If he drops out of the top 10, then the decision might get a little tougher. But the risk of returning is HIGH. He doesn't know where his draft stock will be next year. His stock could drop. He could get injured. Financially, the smart decision is "Pay me now". The sooner he starts earning, the sooner he'll accrue interest, his net worth starts to grow, and the sooner that he'll be able to earn that second contract.

Theresa McCulley 8 years, 4 months ago

How many million do you need to live on? It's not always about the money. Joel, I hope you know that the ones on here that want you to declare for the draft are probably KSU or another competitor fans.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 4 months ago

Depends on what he wants to do with his life after basketball. He is in the unique situation where he can go back to his home country and make a huge difference for the youth in Cameroon and that costs money.

How much money does one need to live on?

In December 2007, Rodriguez and the Yankees agreed to a 10-year, $275 million contract.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 4 months ago

Just got an update on my phone saying Embiid is declaring for the draft this year. This also means KU is more than likely the front runner for Myles Turner so if Turner does commit to KU, that's not a bad consolation prize.

Robert Brock 8 years, 4 months ago

<p> reports that Embiid has already made his mind up to enter the NBA draft.


Yonatan Negash 8 years, 4 months ago

Embiid is as good as gone, just waitng for the announcement.

Let's give a big Jayhawk welcome to our next big man on campus Myles Turner.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 4 months ago

Come on Turner, Lets have some fun next year if Joel is gone...

Darrel Stice 8 years, 4 months ago

I checked JoJo's Twitter page and he tweeted 13 minutes ago that he still hasn't decided. Maybe it's just a smokescreen, but maybe there's reason to hope!

Pun Mak 8 years, 4 months ago

Yahoo reports embiid to enter draft.

Brian Mellor 8 years, 4 months ago

All the current sources appear to be stemming from the one Yahoo writer, Kevin Wojnakcjiak or whatever.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 4 months ago

A Haiku to Joel:

jo jo gave us joy

like a newborn butterfly

the big guy flies off.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 4 months ago

JoJo gave us grace

to soon he flew so high

broken wings butterfly

Ian Emerson 8 years, 4 months ago

It's ok everyone. I tweeted JOJO and I think I convinced him to stay.

Sam Constance 8 years, 4 months ago

It's days like this I remember why "sports journalism" can be an oxymoron.

Not because of Keegan's article, which is clearly not intended to be taken seriously, but because of the fact that one writer can run a story and have the person whom the story is about refute that story, and yet the story spreads like wildfire to all corners of the sports world as if it was sourced from the person himself.

As far as Embiid goes, what I'm about to say goes against "conventional wisdom". Conventional wisdom says that if you are a top draft pick, you go to the NBA. Period. This particular bit of conventional wisdom is based on the idea that a guaranteed paycheck--especially one of that size--is more important than anything else.

I agree that a paycheck that big is a huge deal and very important, but I find it sad that it's all we seem to value as a culture any longer. Embiid leaving for the NBA is the safe play--it ensures he will play in the pros and get at least one monster contract. Both very valuable things. But by guaranteeing himself those things, he robs himself of other things:

1) The ability to play in one of the biggest sporting events of the year: the NCAA tournament. For some, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For others, it may be nothing more than a stepping stone to greener pastures. Neither attitude is wrong, but if Embiid leaves, he clearly will miss out on this opportunity.

2) The ability to enjoy being a bonafide rock star in college one more year. We so often talk about guaranteed money vs. potential money, but never look at the other side of the coin: in college Embiid is a guaranteed superstar. While we see his potential and think that he has a great shot to achieve superstardom at the next level as well, it's far from guaranteed. Plus, the tone of it is different in the NBA. Your fans don't have the same personal connection to the players as they do in college. There are no Allen Fieldhouses or Cameron Indoors in the NBA. Again, maybe this isn't that important to Embiid, which is more than fine, but with the "if you are a lottery pick, you HAVE TO GO!" attitude, we gloss over the fact that this is even a question.

3) Winning a major title. This obviously ladders up to #1, and is far from a guarantee, but there are great players who go to the NBA and never sniff a title, or even play on a team that contends for a title. There is something to be said for having one more year at a school that expects to be first class next year. There is no guarantee that Embiid will ever get to play on a team with that kind of talent/ability relative to its competitors again.

(to be concluded...)

Sam Constance 8 years, 4 months ago


Clearly, the context to all of this is potential long-term injury. Especially with Embiid having the back trouble he did this year. There are two ways to look at this:

On the one hand, another year in college is another chance to have a catastrophic, career-ending injury. However, this risk is no higher for Embiid than any other player. Granted, it's better to have that injury occur on an NBA court, where you have a cushy contract to fall back on, but if Embiid's family is as well off as we've been led to believe, and his true ultimate goal is being one of the most dominant centers to play the game, a career-ending injury will be devastating to him whether it occurs next year in college or after he has his NBA contract.

On the other hand, there is the potential for another season to reveal that his back troubles are more than an isolated event, potentially harming his draft stock. However, this must be considered with two things in mind: there is always an NBA GM who is willing to take a flyer on someone with as much potential as Embiid, in spite of any injury concerns. And coming back to school to play another 30-40 game season instead of an 80+ game season gives him far more of a chance to actually strengthen his back to ensure that he's built for the long haul moving forward.

And ultimately, like it or not, players like Embiid have a better chance to develop in college than in the NBA. Granted, the competition is stiffer in the NBA, but so is the imperative to win NOW. Coaches and GMs don't have patience for a young player to struggle for very long before reducing minutes, benching, or ultimately cutting them altogether. That's not happening at the college level--not for someone as talented as Embiid over a season that is so short.

I want Embiid to do what he wants to do. I just hope that he doesn't go to the NBA as a default decision because it's what everyone thinks is the "correct" thing to do. There are benefits and drawbacks to both sides, and it should be treated like the serious decision it is, not a sure-fire answer.

Bryan Mohr 8 years, 4 months ago

Embiid (2014), Wiggins (2014), Henry (2010), McLemore (2013), Selby (2011) = ZERO Final 4's, and ONE Final 8 (2011). The 1-and-done's aren't paying off for Kansas. Maybe Calipari has the gifting to make it work at Memphis and Kentucky, but it is clearly not paying off for KU. Self should only scholarship players that will make at least a 2 year commitment. Assuming the players don't lie, that would be better for the program than landing 1-and-done's.

Roger Tobias 8 years, 4 months ago

And, for his own sake, Wiggins should stay at KU. If ever there was evidence of a high school phenom that was not ready for the Show after 1 year of college, he is it. When he can dominate and take over a game against true high-level competition (um, KSU, UT, OSU, OU, ISU aren't it--Florida, Nova, SDS are) on a consistent basis, then he is ready. He needs more strength to go along with his flash. One more year will do it.

Dale Rogers 8 years, 4 months ago

But is he ready emotionally and is he sufficiently mature? So many have flamed out because of those shortcomings. Michael Beasley is a good example. He's starting to turn the corner, apparently, but it almost destroyed him.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 4 months ago

Dude didn't even wait till the NCAA was completed...Good Luck Jo!

Joe Ross 8 years, 4 months ago

I love Tom's illogical statements. They make me laugh sometimes. As if just because the fans would enjoy Embiid's being here another year, that necessarily means that there's no other justifiable reason in staying.

You're gonna have to get up a whole lot earlier in the morning to fool me, Tom!

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