Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week
This past week, the talk of college basketball was Embiid. He started with a dominant second half against Iowa State, going for 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. He completely controlled the game at both ends of the floor, going 7-for-8 from the field; Iowa State had no answer for him. There was one stretch where Embiid sandwiched a blocked shot between two finishes at the rim; it was an eye-opening string of plays for the Cameroon native.
Up next was a showdown with Oklahoma State, widely considered Kansas' biggest competition for the Big 12 title. And Embiid showed up. He finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks, shooting 5-for-6 from the field. For the week, Embiid averaged 14.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.5 blocks, while shooting 12-for-14 from the field.
There are few players nationally who change the game at both ends as much as Embiid. Despite only playing for three years, Embiid has advanced post moves on the low block. He can score consistently with his back to the basket, with tremendous footwork and IQ inside. Turnovers have been something of an issue, but that can be rectified with more patience. Defensively, his length and timing make him a huge asset when it comes to protecting the rim. He has been in foul trouble too often, but again, that will change as he gets more experienced.
On the season, Embiid is averaging 11.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. He is shooting an outstanding 67.9 percent from the field, and 66.7 percent from the free-throw line.
CBS National Player of the Week
Ask anybody connected to the Kansas program for the name of the Jayhawks' best player, and, depending on the day, you could reasonably get three different answers.
Sometimes it looks like Perry Ellis.
Andrew Wiggins remains KU's top scorer.
And now Joel Embiid has emerged in a magnificent way.
The freshman big got 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in last Monday's upset of Iowa State, then finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks in Saturday's win over Oklahoma State. He was a combined 12-of-14 from the field in those games against quality competition, and that's why Embiid is the CBSSports.com National Player of the Week.
"He's so good," OSU coach Travis Ford said Saturday, and there isn't a single person arguing with him. As I wrote this weekend, Embiid is progressing faster than most anticipated and has already made the transition from great prospect to terrific player. He's reached double-figures in points in seven of his past eight games. He's averaging 11.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in 24.5 minutes during KU's current four-game winning streak.
In other words, Embiid is great and getting better.
Kansas is, too.
That's why it looks like Bill Self is headed for another Big 12 title.