Exhibiting hustle and defense rarely seen in an all-star game, both Joel Embiid and Selden said that intensity was a point of emphasis this week in practices leading up to the featured game of Saturday night, the national edition of the 2013 Jordan Brand Classic.
"The coaches took the initiative more than the McDonald's game," Selden told USA Today. "This was definitely fun to watch. We were having practice like we were a real team."
The 7 foot Embiid led all players with 5 blocks, including one massive swat that sent game co-MVP Julius Randle tumbling to the floor. "I said no, no, no," laughed Embiid as he waggled his finger Dikembe Mutombo style. His seven rebounds were the most by any player on the winning West team.
Known for his defensive prowess, Embiid said offense was definitely a big part of his game, including the 3-point shot, which he said he continues to work on.
Next stop for Embiid is the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. He has been added to the international team roster for the Nike Hoop Summit, set for 6 p.m., on April 20 and will be a teammate of undecided Kansas recruit Andrew Wiggins.
Both Selden and Embiid said bonding with the other players and each other was one of the most enjoyable part of these post-season games. They've had a great time getting to know each other as future teammates, and also spent a little time doing a bit of recruiting for their Jayhawk team. Neither knew Wiggins' college destination, but each made sure he knew he would be a welcome addition to the 2013-14 Kansas basketball team.
The star-studded crowd at Barclays Center included Michael Jordan, Spike Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, CC Sabathia, Maya Moore, and rapper Drake, who performed after the game.
Embiid and Selden enjoyed their time on-stage with the Canadian rapper, and for a moment got to be fans instead of the focus, although they know that wont be the case in Lawrence, KS. where the spotlight burns bright on every Jayhawk player.
Plans are to arrive in early June and start working immediately towards improving their personal games and fine-tuning the plan strength coach Andrea Hudy has given each to help prepare them for the rigors of college basketball. Embiid started playing basketball as a 16-yr old, and didn't start as a Junior. Still, he said he plans on bringing his version of the "block party" to Lawrence. Selden knows expectations are always high in Jayhawk nation. "We're going to work hard, play defense, and win #10" he said. And a national championship? "Of course," he said, giving that soon-to-be-famous megawatt smile. "The fans want nothing less."
4/13/13, 12:41 AM
Reports out of Jordan Game on Joel Embiid are glowing. Did so well he was added to International Hoop Summit team. (ESPN's No. 2 center)
4/14/13, 10:03 PM
Chatted with an NBA scout who attended the Jordan Brand Classic tonight. His most pleasant surprise? Kansas-bound 7-footer Joel Embiid.
1. Embiid carves out his national niche
In the scouting business, the truth is that you're known more for your misses than your hits. That's just how it is, and it comes with the turf. However, that doesn't mean the hits don't feel good.
With that in mind, moving center Joel Embiid (Gainesville, Fla./The Rock School) to the No. 2 center in the senior class when we updated our recruit rankings this winter turned out to be an excellent call made by the ESPN staff.
…Embiid, who averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game as a senior, was impressive enough that the Cameroon native was added to this weekend's Nike Hoop Summit game (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.com). Oh, and by the way, the international team was already loaded for the Hoop Summit, but organizers called Kansas and told the staff that Embiid was too good to pass up.
I wasn't at the Jordan practices or game and haven't broken down the tape yet. But ESPN colleague Adam Finkelstein attended two days of practices, and I texted him on Friday to find out how Embiid was doing. "Lottery pick," was Finkelstein's response.
ESPN Insider ($)
No. 2 senior center Joel Embiid (Kansas) represents potential, while No. 1 center Dakari Johnson (Kentucky) represents production.
Embiid showed flashes of what he can become as he had a couple of big-time blocks and put-backs in the game, but his real performances came in the practices. Embiid is an example of hard work and patience combined with great size, developing footwork and a soft scoring touch. In the practices against Johnson, who is hard to score over, Embiid made some jump hooks and short jumpers. After practice and in shooting drills he would step out to short range on his jumper with comfort or practice his dunks running in from half court, which is scary to see from an athletic 7-footer.
As far as Embiid has come in the past year, he still hasn’t put it all together. However, his development is happening so rapidly that he shows improvement at the end of every single workout. By the time it’s all said and done, he could easily be one of the best big men Bill Self has ever coached.
Link to download of JBC 2013 game (Works best with Google Chrome, File is in MKV format 1 GB in size, and a video player recommended to view it is video lan player)