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Joel Embiid says he hasn’t made up mind on entering draft

Mar 24, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT

Joel Embiid AP

If one top pick was going to stay in school for another season, it likely would be Kansas big man Joel Embiid.

He said earlier this season he was considering returning for a sophomore season in Kansas, but that was before a back injury that sidelined him at the end of the season and made him miss the NCAA Tournament. A tournament where Kansas was eliminated in the second round.

After that game Embiid wasn’t into talking about his future (and you certainly can’t blame him), as reported by Gary Parish at

“I’m not worried about that right now,” Embiid said.

Embiid added that he’ll speak to KU’s coaching staff and fellow Cameroonian Luc Mbah a Moute before deciding whether to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. There is no timetable for a decision, Embiid told

The back issue — a fractured vertebra — has caught the attention of NBA teams (Bill Self said it was no big deal), but they want their medical staffs to get a look before making any decisions. The fact remains that Embiid is a potential No. 1 pick and unless the back injury news is devastating he will not fall any farther than No. 3 in the draft.

Embiid should do what he feels is best for himself. However, I’d be surprised if he returned.

A lot of guys say they will return until they see the money on the table. If he comes out and is taken No. 1 Embiid would make a guaranteed $9.5 million in his first two seasons (that’s the least he could make if he fell out of the league), plus he starts the clock sooner on the larger, second contract that would likely follow.

He’ll also develop faster as a player if he goes pro — it’s his job to get better in the NBA. There is superior competition, more games and no NCAA time constraints on his development work. The NBA only wants to raise the age limit so that some of that development doesn’t happen on their dime, they want colleges to do the work, it’s not that players develop faster or better in college. The elite players simply do not.

  1. aboogy123456 - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    I think your last line of the article is a good distinction of who develops better in college versus the nba. The elite players will most likely devellop better in the pros because they have the confidence and ability to work on their weaknesses in game action. For guys who are not elite, it may make sense to play against inferior competition so they can work on weaknesses. I don’t see why any of the top players in this draft would benefit from staying in college (looking at you, Jabari)

    • kinggw - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      That’s all well and good for guys that go to teams that will give them 20-25 minutes a night. Lots of these guys aren’t going to get that.

      Do you think Archie Goodwin is getting by better by only playing sporadically, averaging 10 minutes a night, Otto Porter playing 8 minutes per night, or Alex Len playing 9 minutes per night? Lance Stephenson’s first two years in the league he was glued to the bench and was more famous for his antics on the bench than his play on the court. He didn’t get better until he got a bunch of minutes. Another year at Cincy could’ve shortened his learning curve. Goodwin definitely would’ve benefited from another year at Kentucky. Embiid should come out because with another year he might be exposed as the next Thabeet. I understand why a guy like Alex Len comes out when they do, but I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t be a more effective NBA player with another year of seasoning at Maryland where he would be playing approximately 30 minutes a night versus sitting on the bench for the Suns.

  2. harshedmellow - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Hmmm. The back issue goes one of two ways next season. Bad thing, or not bad thing.

    If it’s fine, then it doesnt matter, he’s still a top-three pick after next season if he stays. If it isn’t fine, is he better off in college, with a bad back that just ruined his NBA draft status, or on an NBA roster with 9.5 mil guaranteed AND a sneaker contract that dwarfs that?

    Gosh, that’s just so hard to figure out the best course of action for the young man.

  3. tcclark - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    I think that last paragraph is just wrong. there is a serious correlation between the decline of the NBA Center position and the increase of players coming out early. Centers need to learn to dominate when banging against college kids before they can seriously compete with the big boys. Olajuwon Robinson Ewing Duncan all went 4 years or more in college. No one can say that they would have been the same players had they come out early. guys like Howard and cousins are extremely talented but they lack the skill that those other guys have. they survive on pure talent

  4. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    He’s guaranteed millions even if he never plays in the NBA. Returning to school would be seriously stupid, and I rarely say school is a bad idea.

  5. ohioteamsusuallysuck - Mar 24, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Olajuwon Robinson Ewing Duncan all went 4 years or more in college.


  6. imakcds - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    The emphasis on Improvement seems to be focussed solely on physical skills and abilities ON the court, but the biggest Improvement needed is Maturity, Inner Growth.
    That is better accomplished in College, and the very high level of Immaturity in the NBA, due mostly to the high influx of undergraduates, is what’s KILLING the NBA.

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