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Joel Embiid “strongly considering” staying at Kansas for sophomore season

Feb 5, 2014, 12:49 PM EDT

Kansas v Baylor Getty Images

Everyone says this until the money is on the table.

Kansas center Joel Embiid is at or near the top of every team’s draft board — DraftExpress has him as the No. 1 pick overall right now — and as general managers survey the NBA and see the value of a big who can protect the paint, plus a guy with offensive potential, he’s not likely to slip outside the top three.

If he enters the draft.

Embiid has been consistent is saying he’s not sure he’s going to come out and enter the draft. The Cameroon native said it again to ESPN on Tuesday before his team took on Baylor.

Kansas 7-footer Joel Embiid told ESPN that he is far from a lock to leave college after this season, and is “strongly considering” returning for his sophomore campaign…

“I’m not even thinking about it right now,” Embiid said. “I’ll make a decision after the season, but I’m definitely considering coming back to school.”

First and foremost, Embiid should make the decision that is best for him personally. He has only been playing organized basketball for three years, he has talked about the entire experience being an adjustment. He clearly has a comfort level at Kansas and with Bill Self, and if he feels it is best for him as a person he should stay.

However, as noted above, a lot of players say they want to stay until the money is on the table. A lot of guys have said “I’m staying” after their team was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, only to recant that a week later. We’ll see how this plays out.

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Let me add two quick points. First, is that if Embiid comes out he would make a guaranteed $9.5 million in his first two seasons, plus he starts the clock sooner on the larger, second contract that often follows for No. 1 picks. When we talk about leaving money on the table, it’s not just the money Embiid would make in his rookie season, it is removing one year from his limited window to earn money as a professional basketball player. Tom Ziller laid argument out very well at SB Nation. (If he wants his degree, he can still get it. Shaquille O’Neal and a host of other players have finished getting their degrees while playing in the NBA.)

Second, the idea that “he needs another year to develop” is just a fallacy. If he enters the league his full-time job is to develop as a player. As a college student he has limits on practice hours (and hours he can practice with a coach), plus he plays in fewer games against inferior competition.

A lot of people confuse the impact a player could make in his rookie year with the speed of development — if Embiid stays in college a season he could make a bigger impact in the NBA his rookie year, but that is different than saying he will develop more as a player. Embiid has talked about his diet and wanting to improve it — NBA teams have entire programs set up around this, trainers who would get him on that path in a way college dorm food just cannot. If he were willing to put the work in, Embiid would develop more in the NBA (certainly some teams are better at developing players).

He needs to do what is best for him, what feels most comfortable to him. If that is to stay in Kansas, he should stay.

But don’t take what any player says right now about staying too seriously.

  1. aboogy123456 - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    I think staying in college is good for a lot of kids but I’d like to see Embiid declare for the draft. He is a smart kid who has shown he knows how to develop his game rapidly, and I think this shows that he is someone who can continue to develop in the NBA after getting paid. He needs a lot of coaching but he seems like he’s a very coachable player, hopefully he goes somewhere with a good mentor.

    • jonevans511 - Feb 5, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      Call me an idiot (ok, don’t; I’m sensitive), but I kind of hope all of the Blue Chippers stay put for one more year to throw crap in the faces of all the tanking NBA teams.

      Just imagine if Parker, Randle, Wiggins, Embiid, Hood (not sure what year he is but you get the point), Gordon, and all other projected lottery picks decided to return to college…..

      Ok, now back to reality. I’m a Sixers fan.

    • antianarxi - Feb 5, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      yeah sure, what do NBA coaches now about development lol also please tell me what happens if he gets injured badly next year. what will he get? i will tell you , what he will get, nada, ziltch! so please pass this development theory to someone who does not have a clue.

  2. fotydaze - Feb 5, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    Nice advice, telling him to come out when he’s not ready. Ask Hasheem Thabeet how it’s worked out for him

    • antianarxi - Feb 5, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      even if Thabeet spend 20 years in college, he still would of been a bust! no basketball IQ whatsoever, you cant teach that.

    • mikerome64 - Feb 5, 2014 at 8:25 PM

      Thabeet spent 3 years at UConn. What are you talking about?

      • bkbell3 - Feb 6, 2014 at 2:06 AM

        College doesn’t mean squat when you hit the mega lottery that is the NBA for a lottery pick. First off the sooner you get in the longer your career will be.Also if you stay you might get hurt or your stock might drop the next year and each of your next contracts start, based on your amount of the last year of your previous contract. So if you stay and drop you lose dollars in your first contract and each of the next. Also in college your limited, in season and off season how much you can play,train and be coached And you have to go to class also. In the NBA you can train all year round with the beat coaches and trainers money can buy in top notch facilities AND you have top insurance AND a guarantied contract if you get hurt. The purpose of college is to gain knowledge to then find a career to support yourself. Hit the lottery and you can go to college anytime you want.It makes no sense to stay and be used for free by the professional league that is college to make the coach millions and the schools billions.

  3. antianarxi - Feb 5, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Im not completey sold on this. is he meaning to say he will risk a multi million dollar deal ( as a potential number one pick) with an NBA team to sit another year in college and risk being injured for NOTHING and end up loosing it all? Its like GOOGLE asking a college student to be its CEO and the student saying , sorry id like to stay in college and learn a little more. This simply does not happen! Someone with a high pick in 2015 has obviously offered him gifts and money, or something in that nature for him not to come in this draft.

    • coachjac30 - Feb 5, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      Wow, a conspiracy theory, really? Do you realize how absolutely moronic that sounded?
      As for him going/not going pro, all he is saying is he isn’t sure. Is that really that surprising to hear a kid say that in the middle of the season? What is going to happen, is he will opt for the draft and hear what teams have to say and more than likely, he will stay in the draft.

      No need to have an aneurysm over this.

      • antianarxi - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        yes you are right , its an everyday thing, people splashing millions in your face, and you say hmmmm, let me think about it, maybe I will rather stay in school ! you need a reality check !

      • coachjac30 - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:33 PM

        so in a league where the top pick isn’t guaranteed to the worst team, a team has made him a promise a year and a half in advance that they will take him with the first pick. HAHAHAH

        I’m all for entertaining conspiracies, but this is just plain ridiculous. It sounds to me like you are the one that needs a reality check.

      • antianarxi - Feb 6, 2014 at 12:55 AM

        hey coachjac how many years have u been following the NBA? not many from the looks of it. you dont need to have one of the number one picks overall in order to get to one of these players. If you have the resources and a few picks early or late in the draft as sweeteners you can do this easily. why would the team need to do this a year and a half prior to the draft? the kid just mentioned that he might not be in the draft. you are wayyyyy lost dude…

      • coachjac30 - Feb 6, 2014 at 6:54 AM

        Again, nobody knows who has a high pick in NEXT years draft yet, they still have to play NEXT season, have the draft lottery, and then we’ll know the draft order for NEXT year.

        So this guy is that good in your opinion, that a team is offering him big time money and gifts now, is going to offer the moon and the sun to some team NEXT year to move up in the draft, just to give him more money?

        You are saying that Embiid was bribed/offered gifts to return to college, so he can enter the 2015 draft, which is when? That’s right, June of 2015, a year and a half from now.

        Nobody has offered this kid gifts or money, he is simply saying what 98% of the college kids say midseason.

  4. DonKellyBaby - Feb 5, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    I personally think players should have to be 2 years removed from high school in order to enter the NBA Draft (the NFL is 3 yrs removed).

    The game of college basketball has been ruined because of the 1 and done rule. Most of these kids aren’t ready to make the jump after 1 year of college ball and rarely make an impact their rookie seasons.

    • antianarxi - Feb 5, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      so why cant they continue to develope in the NBA instead of college while getting a few million dollars in the process?

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Feb 5, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      I agree. I almost wish basketball would go to having the D League set up in a similar way to MLBs minor leagues. Teams could draft players out of high school and pay them but if they flame out the drafting team is on the hook for the players education. Each team should have a 30 man roster between their NBA and D League roster (15 each). Of those 30 roster spots 25 should be “protected” players who can’t be claimed, but the other 5 are free to be claimed by any team with the stipulation the claimed player must become protected for the rest of the league year by the claiming team. I think it would make both the D League and NBA more interesting to follow.

      • antianarxi - Feb 5, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        so you mean to say a couple million dollars is not enough for a player to continue his education, if they ”flair out’ in the NBA?

    • mikerome64 - Feb 5, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      Screw College Basketball! Thabeet spent 3 years at UConn and he still sucks. But while he sucks he makes a lot of money. Do not leave money on the table PERIOD!

    • bkbell3 - Feb 6, 2014 at 2:27 AM

      At 18 you can go and fight and die for your country but you can’t play pro sports?smh. This is all about money, pro teams don’t want to scout high school players and use the college game as a FREE minor league to get a longer look at a player before investing in them and the colleges get free employees to make them millions of dollars and millions more in publicity without them having to make long term commitments or take care of them if they develop medical problems later on in life from injuries sustained in college etc. If they enter the draft and don’t get drafted they should be able to go back to college after all the draft is just a job interview, if they don’t get the job why should that affect their standing in college. Also how many first year employees make an huge impact in their first year on the job. You make no sense on any level and just ask MCW on philly or lillard or the unibrow or melo or shaq or Irving etc. about first year impacts as well as how many vet. stink up the place each year that have been in the league for a number of years.smh

  5. spursareold - Feb 5, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    I can see a number of players pulling out this year to get a better draft slot next year. Between the deep class, and some surprise holdovers like Willie Cauley and Smart who stayed a year beyond their Freshman campaigns, there is a lot of competition for the high draft slots. That being said, he’s project as #1. Not likely any player in that spot opts to return to school.

    • coachjac30 - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:04 PM

      Look at guys like Terrance Jones, Joakim Noah and Jarrod Sullinger. If they came out when they should have they were top 3 picks, then dropped after going back to school for one year. Who’s to say the same thing wouldn’t happen to any of these kids.

      The main reason for a player to come out of college to play is the money. As it says in the blog, the real money comes from your 2nd contract, so why go back to school if youre a first round pick. There are always going to be other kids coming up behind you that could jump you, and guys that stay that could jump you.

  6. heeterjoe - Feb 5, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    I can assure you that no KU basketball players eat “dorm food”. Take a minute to look up the name Andrea Hudy (KU’s Strength and Conditioning Coach) and you will get a better idea of how these athletes are managed. They also have a full time sports nutritionist and sports medicine staff. I am assuming that the other top programs do too. I am willing to bet that many of the top programs keep tabs on their athletes better than many NBA teams.

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 5, 2014 at 8:43 PM

      I don’t doubt the resources are there at KU, but that stuff standard in the NBA. Whether a guy chooses to follow it in college or the pros is about the player, not the resources.

  7. dinofrank60 - Feb 5, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Why is it a problem for him to stay? If he feels he is not ready, he doesn’t go. This is his life, not ours.

  8. shuttaman1990 - Feb 5, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    If the lakers can draft him believe that he will not consider staying in damn kansas.

    Lakers all day.

    • coachjac30 - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:05 PM

      then they’ll just screw him up like they did Bynum

  9. alexbebeastin - Feb 5, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    Bust!!! Thabeet 2.0

  10. antianarxi - Feb 5, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    this guy just doesnt have the basketball IQ to match. you can me tall and athletic but with no basketball IQ you end up like Thabeet.

  11. coachjac30 - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:12 PM

    While I’m not saying Thabeet is Jermaine Oneal, but if you remember when O’Neal didn’t do much in his first 5 years in the league and he ended up having a pretty good career. My point is, Embiid could come in and suck for a couple years, but if he’s on a team with the patience to develop him then he might be alright.

    Thabeets problem was he was drafted 2nd. If he was drafted later in the 1st round, to a team willing to be patient, his career could have turned out differently.

    Personally, I wouldn’t draft Embiid inside the top 10, given history with players such as Thabeet, Oden and the fact he has only been playing basketball for 3 years.

  12. louhudson23 - Feb 6, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    The money only matters if you manage to hang onto it. Not to say this young man won’t,but clearly,lots of players do not,no matter if the play for 2 years or 10. Reality is that many are living(however lavishly) from paycheck to paycheck,as has been shown by panic that sets in come strike/lockout time.If you are broke 2 years out of the league,you might as well not even bothered.. ….Not saying college will cure that,but the idea that the money is the deal maker simply isn’t true. It’s not what you make,it’s what you spend….

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