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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 CBSSports.com.

“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 CBSSports.com.

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.

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