Column: For our sakes, Embiid should stay at KU

Thursday, March 27, 2014

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.