"I just want to thank God first for giving me this opportunity to come to the (United States) and play ball," Embiid said. "I want to thank the coaching staff, my teammates, the fans - everyone that's helped me through my journey. After thinking a lot, I've decided to declare for the NBA Draft."
KUAD press release with quotes
LJW Photos: Best of Embiid
CollegeHoopHits Archive: A look back at the commitment of Joel Embiid to Kansas (Scroll down to recruiting section)
In the end, Joel Embiid had to listen to his mentor.
The 7-foot center was torn in recent weeks on whether he should come back to Kansas for his sophomore season for a few reasons: He still had ways he could develop; he loved the fans and his teammates; he hadn’t gotten to play in the NCAA Tournament because of a back injury.
When the final decision had to be made, though, Embiid turned to NBA player Luc Mbah a Moute, a fellow Cameroonian who had first spotted him at a camp during his junior year of high school. It was Mbah a Moute that persuaded him to come to the United States to play high school basketball, and Mbah a Moute who convinced him that KU was the best place to prepare him for the NBA.
So when Mbah a Moute consulted with Embiid about turning pro this season ...
“I’ve always trusted him. I’ve always had to trust him. Since I came here, he’s always helped me,” Embiid said. “So I just felt comfortable trusting what he was saying.”
Mbah a Moute’s message was clear: Leave school now, and you’re a lock to be a top-five pick. Leave after next year, and anything could happen.
It’s the reason why Embiid, after hinting earlier in the year that he might stay multiple seasons in Lawrence, officially announced Wednesday that he was declaring for the NBA draft during a press conference at Allen Fieldhouse.
“He wanted to come back. If college was paying $5 million a year, and the NBA was paying $5 million a year, there’s no question what he would have done,” KU coach Bill Self said. “But I think the financial opportunity was too great.”
…Embiid says his back is fine now, and that he’s close to being 100 percent. Self even said Embiid was moving around now as well as he was a couple months ago.
Wearing a blue Jayhawk polo shirt, Embiid reiterated that leaving KU wasn’t an easy decision.
“I really love this place,” Embiid said. “The fans are crazy. Just watching them before every game and three days before every game camping out … for me it means a lot. They showed me nothing but love.”
Embiid is likely to be in the discussion for the No. 1 overall selection in June's draft. Other candidates for that spot include his teammate Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker.
“The bottom line is, he’s disappointed absolutely no one in our basketball program,” Self said. “I don’t think he could have made a bad decision, but I think he made a real good decision.”
Embiid, the 7-footer from Cameroon who announced his intention to declare for the 2014 NBA Draft on Wednesday in a news conference in Allen Fieldhouse, also consulted with his mom and dad and Jayhawk coach Bill Self.
“They didn’t tell me what to do. They just gave me the advantages and disadvantages,” said the 20-year-old Embiid, who weighed the words of wisdom, and came up with his decision on Sunday.
…“We talked about, ‘At this rate you’ve improved over a short period of time, think about what you could be a year from now,’” Self said of Embiid being a polished pro player as soon as the second half of his rookie season. “The whole thing is, being a top-five pick this year is guaranteed. What happens if something bad happens next year (in college)? I think that was the whole deal. It was the safe play in my mind.”
…Of his parents, who did not make it in from Cameroon for the news conference, Embiid said: “Obviously they don’t live here, so I talked to them to see what they wanted me to do. The decision was mine, so I was just gathering information (from them),” he said, not revealing specifics.
And of Hall of Famer Olajuwon, who called a few days ago, Embiid said: “I mean, I was really excited because it’s my favorite player of all time, my idol, so I was just on the phone talking to him. He was talking to me. I don’t even remember what he was saying. I was just excited. I was just like, ‘Yeah.’” Embiid said with a smile.
What will KU’s fans say about the man who leaves after averaging 11.2 points and 8.1 boards and setting the all-time freshman shot-block record in his only season?
“I just want to be remembered as a guy who gave everything when he was playing. Also, I just wanted to win,” he said.
Joel Embiid walked out of Jayhawk Towers at 1:31 p.m. as an amateur athlete.
His black Kansas polo, sandals and multi-colored socks wouldn’t be on for much longer. He briefly waited to cross the street at Irving Hill Road and took a long look at the Burge Union as he walked into its parking lot.
None of his fellow students bothered him. He was alone.
As he approached the Wagnon Athletic Center to enter Allen Fieldhouse, Embiid sang along with music playing out of his phone. His arms swung back and forth.
Soon Embiid traipsed down a few stairs and through the entrance, swapped out his black polo for a blue Kansas shirt, ditched his sandals for black-and-white Adidas sneakers and did what many figured inevitable following his incredible freshman season: declare for the NBA Draft. He walked out of his dorm a 20-year-old kid and returned a millionaire.
This one has been easy to see coming since at least December, an outrageously talented 7-footer who might be the first pick in the NBA Draft choosing to play for money against the world’s best.
Embiid has only been playing organized basketball for three years, and only recently learned how to drive (though he doesn’t have a license). He really does love Kansas, and the college experience.
In a different world, he probably would want to stay at least one more year. But in this reality, he doesn’t have much of a choice.
Embiid is projected by pretty much everyone to be one of the first three picks in the draft, which would mean a guarantee of between $7.5 million and $9.4 million over the next two years with big raises after that.
Coming back to college would mean giving that up, and even if you assume he’d be in the same draft position next year, he would be forfeiting a year of being paid for a year of playing for free. On the back end of his career, that could mean $10 million.
…Think about it this way. As far as projected top-three picks go, Embiid had as much reason as anyone to stay. His family is financially stable. He really does like KU. Respects his coaches, loves his teammates. He’s terrifically bright, but still new enough to the United States that another year on campus before joining the bigger business of the NBA wouldn’t have hurt. Barring the worst with his back, it’s really hard to imagine his draft stock falling much.
Plus, he didn’t play in the NCAA Tournament, the best part of college basketball. He could’ve come back and had everything run through him at one of the nation’s premiere programs. Leave now, and his KU career has to be seen as a bit of an “incomplete,” to borrow Self’s word.
All of that, and it still wasn’t that difficult a decision.
But Embiid did complete one chapter. Early in the season, a reporter asked him about an account of killing a lion when he was a boy. Embiid didn’t exactly deny the tale, which made it into print and became a source of amusement among teammates.
Wednesday, Embiid fessed up. Did he kill the lion?
“No,” Embiid said, his head down and laughing. “I didn’t.”
Joel Embiid would have been the focal point of Kansas University’s basketball team his sophomore season ... had the 7-footer from Cameroon stuck around for a sophomore season.
“I think he could do anything,” KU coach Bill Self said of the 20-year-old Embiid, who Wednesday declared for the 2014 NBA Draft. “He could be our best pick-and-pop guy. He could be maybe our best passer. He would have had many opportunities to show what he could do. If you saw him practice on a daily basis, you’d be amazed on how quick he picks stuff up. I think with a little bit of time he can do a little bit of everything, a lot of everything.”
Duke, Arizona, Wisconsin, Kansas and Florida are the top five of the Ridiculously Early Preseason Top 25 (and one): cbsprt.co/PIQ4du
We all know now -- five days after he was named Wake's new coach -- the influence two of the great ones, Larry Brown and Bill Self, had on Manning's breadth of knowledge of the game. But 15 years is a long time to spend in the NBA, and it got me to wondering who he played for after he left Kansas.
The list, a veritable Who's Who of basketball coaches, includes Gene Shue, Paul Westphal, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Danny Ainge, George Karl, Jerry Sloan and Don Nelson. Not only did he play virtually every role one could play on a team -- as he mentioned at yesterday's media conference -- he played for virtually every kind of coach.
But he readily confirmed yesterday that two of his greatest influences were Brown and Self. When I asked him what he gleaned from those two, his reply reduced the assembled media to laughter.
"We don't have enough time,'' (Manning) said with a grin.
…"I played for Coach Brown and Coach Brown has given me a lot of inspiration,'' Manning said. "Coach Brown made me a better person and he made me a better basketball player. We won some games. I graduated. I met my wife (Julie). And it was all that I could ask for, playing for him.
"Now he's a tough dude to play for, because he challenges you every day. And that's something I'm going to do here. But Coach Brown is someone who has had a profound impact on my life, from the day that I started playing for him at Kansas.''
Manning's relationship with Self is much different, if for no other reason than Self is only four years older.
…"Coach Self and I, we go way back,'' Manning said. "My freshman year was his senior year. I actually competed against him when he was at Oklahoma State. He came on staff at Kansas when I was a player there as well, after he finished (playing) and we maintained a good relationship throughout my professional career. And then when I retired, he offered me a spot on his staff as director of student-athlete development/team manager, and it gave me a chance to see everything from the ground up.
"I did everything that my title warranted that I do. It was something for me that I needed to see if I wanted to be involved in this game at this level. And I was very fortunate for that opportunity and I was able to work myself up to assistant coach, and I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot -- not only from Coach Self but his staff, the guys he had working with him. Those guys were an open book for me and really helped me progress in my coaching career.
"Coach Self is someone who defensively, his teams leave their mark on you defensively. And that was probably where I had my biggest influence from him. And his people skills, how he relates to his players, the communication level that he has.
"I refer to it as a bank account with your players. You have to have more deposits than withdrawals -- because your withdrawals will be pretty big from time to time when you're getting onto your guys. But as long as they know you care for them, and you love them, they'll be willing to go out there and play for you. “
Excited to be heading to Wake Forest to join @CoachDManning staff. Great opportunity for me. #ACC #DemonDeacon
Fresno State forward Braeden Anderson -- who suffered a serious neck injury in a September car crash that cost him the 2013-14 season -- said Wednesday that he has been cleared to resume "full-contact activities."
"What an incredible moment," the 6-foot-9 sophomore from Okotoks,Alberta, Canada, wrote on Instagram. "7 months ago I broke my neck, and had only a fraction of 1% chance of making a full recovery. Today at 2:49 p.m. I was officially fully cleared to resume full contact activities."
Anderson, in a later interview with The Bee, said he was at Stanford Medical Center for what he called the "best news I've heard in a while."
"There's really nothing like it, to see it up there on the screen when they're showing you the X-rays of how it used to look and how it looks now and the things that they were looking for," he said. "To hear it from the surgeon, there's nothing like that."
GQ just came out with a list of “12 Sports Pilgrimages Every Man Should Make.” And we can already scratch two off our bucket list: Arrowhead Stadium and Allen Fieldhouse.
A journey to “scream ‘Rock Chalk Jayhawk’ at the hoops cathedral of Allen Fieldhouse’” is No. 6 on the list.
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Big 12 / College News
Big Ten makes it official: It's opening a satellite office in New York City on June 1. Will be at 900 Third Avenue.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, speaking at a business convention Wednesday, said that he's open to the idea of "subsidies" for student basketball athletes in college i order to ease their circumstances and allow for the increase to the NBA's age minimum he's been pushing snice taking office February 1st. From ESPN:
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is so intent on keeping basketball players in college for another year that he said the NBA might consider subsidizing athletes to make them feel better about staying.
Commissioner Adam Silver says the NBA might consider subsidizing NCAA athletes to encourage them to play another year in college.
Raising the age limit for the NBA draft from 19 to 20 years old would require the approval of the National Basketball Players Association as part of the collective bargaining agreement, but Silver said Wednesday at the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center Partner Summit that he was willing to work with the NCAA to give athletes a more fair deal.
"Rather than focusing on a salary and thinking of them as employees, I would go to their basic necessities," Silver said. "I think if [Connecticut Huskies guard] Shabazz Napier is saying he is going hungry, my God, it seems hard to believe, but there should be ample food for the players."
…Silver also mentioned covering attendance gaps and providing insurance for the athletes which would cover the most widely held fear from those considering returning to school, the risk of injury.
It's a startling move by the commissioner, as the NBA has long held a "hands off" approach with the NCAA and how it conducts business. But attitudes are changing about the equal rights protection of student athletes under the current system, even as the NBA deals with what it perceives to be an influx of players unready for NBA life or games.
Silver's been bringing the hammer about the age limit, constantly pushing for it and making it clear he's serious on the matter. He's going to get this done, come hell or high water, and now he's trying to sweeten the approach to help push it through.
The concept is wrought with complications however, which is why Silver only said the league is "considering" it. What happens then with football players? Would this "guilt" the NFL into providing the same, this time for a much higher number of athletes? What about athletes without a professional league to miss out on?
And would the subsidies really be enough to placate people over the fact that players are missing millions of dollars by not being allowed to go pro?
Either way, it's a startlingly progressie move from a commissioner who is very quickly indicating he intends to conduct league business in his own new way.
In his new book, Kentucky coach John Calipari likens the NCAA to the dying Soviet Union and admonishes college sports' governing body for not changing with the times, according to a report.
"The situation reminds me a little of the Soviet Union in its last years. It was still powerful. It could still hurt you. But you could see it crumbling, and it was just a matter of time before it either changed or ceased to exist," Calipari writes in his new book, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
…"I think we could have gotten somewhere with me as the point man, but the NCAA was not interested in my help," Calipari said, according to the WSJ. "The message I got, between the lines, was, 'No, not you. Not Calipari. We don't want him involved.'"
Calipari blamed himself several times, which was admirable considering how much he blamed his players last year after a first-round NIT loss to Robert Morris. It's always an extreme with the 55-year-old Calipari, and his polarizing personality on full display at the Final Four reminded everyone why he'll never make it as an NBA coach. Calipari and college basketball are stuck dancing in awkward hands-on-shoulders circles for the rest of his career.
Former Kentucky player Rex Chapman tweeted before the national title game that Calipari was headed to the Lakers, calling the move a "done deal." (Calipari shot down the rumor after the game.) This classic fake Twitter "story" was about as believable as Calipari's claim that he didn't get flashbacks on Monday night to the 2008 national title game against Kansas that his Memphis team threw away at the line.
But even in a star-driven city like L.A., it's hard to imagine there's a place for Calipari's shtick. The NBA is a players league, and its best coaches avoid personal attention as if it were a 98-mph fastball under the chin.
That's simply not John Calipari. It will never be John Calipari, who in his only NBA head coaching stint with the Nets reportedly had an intern call WFAN to defend him. Kobe Bryant would get motion sickness from rolling his eyes at Calipari before training camp ended. Calipari's best chance to go to the NBA was with the Knicks thanks to his cozy relationship with CAA, but that disappeared when the team hired Phil Jackson as president last month.
Calipari's me-first persona won't fly in the modern NBA, where the new wave of numbers-crunching general managers are looking for low-maintenance coaches like Boston's Brad Stevens, Memphis' Dave Joerger and Philadelphia's Brett Brown. If you are a college basketball fan, you've likely never heard of the latter two, and that's because they're grinder-types who don't draw much attention. The coaches aren't the show in the NBA.
But honestly, if you’ve been paying attention to college basketball over the past 10 years, the Huskies’ championship shouldn’t be that surprising. After all, UConn had the two things every NCAA champion team since 2004 has had: great defense and great guard play.
Each of the 10 national championship teams before this UConn group had at least one starting guard play in the NBA. 2004 UConn had Marcus Williams and Ben Gordon. 2005 North Carolina had Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants. 2006 and 2007 Florida had Taurean Green (who only played 17 career NBA games, but still). 2008 Kansas had Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush. 2009 North Carolina had Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green. 2010 Duke had Nolan Smith. 2011 UConn had Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb. 2012 Kentucky had Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb. 2013 Louisville had Peyton Siva and Russ Smith (who obviously hasn’t played in the NBA, but it’s a safe bet he will).
Now, the NBA-bound guards on those teams played different roles, so it’s not fair to suggest that a team composed of Taurean Green and a bunch of nobodies would win a national title. But I do think it’s fair to suggest that elite backcourt play is a requirement to win it all. Maybe you don’t need Walker — a guard to whom you can throw the ball, get out of his way, and let him carry you to the promised land. But at the very least, you need a guy talented enough to hold his own against any guard in the country. You also need a great defense — the average KenPom adjusted defensive ranking for those 10 title teams is 9.4.
Maryland has some optimism heading into the offseason, and the Terrapins have even appeared in some way-too-early 2014-15 rankings. But Tuesday evening brought some interesting news.
Nick Faust, Shaq Cleare and Roddy Peters have all decided to transfer from Maryland.
“I really enjoyed coaching Nick, Shaq and Roddy,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “It is unfortunate that they will no longer be a part of the program. I wish them the very best in their future endeavors.”
ESPN: Reviewing 2013-14
April 9: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee Application Deadline
April 14: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee Response Deadline
April 15: NCAA Early Entry “Withdrawal” Deadline
April 27: NBA Draft Early Entry Eligibility Deadline (11:59 pm ET)
May 2: NBA Draft Early Entry Candidates Released – Underclassmen Contact Permitted
May 14-18: NBA Draft Combine (Chicago)
May 20: NBA Draft Lottery
June 16: NBA Draft Early Entry Withdrawal Deadline (5:00 pm ET)
June 26: 2014 NBA Draft
draftexpress.com: Testing the NBA Draft Waters in 2014
USA Today HS All-Americans (Alexander & Oubre 1st team)
It’s easy when you sign Andrew Wiggins, and everybody knows going in that he’s gone after a year. It’s harder when you sign Embiid, think he’ll be there two or three, but then the kid takes off so quick it’s only one.
Except with Kansas and especially Kansas with Self, things usually seem to work out just fine, and, hey, the No. 6 recruit in the country is a 7-footer who may or may not have been waiting out Embiid’s decision. The names change, but the story doesn’t.
If Myles Turner joins No. 2 recruit Cliff Alexander, the Jayhawks will be loaded with talent again. Wayne Selden will be better, Brannen Greene is better than a lot of people realize (at least on offense), and Perry Ellis will be back for his junior year.
But KU is still in desperate need for a point guard. The evolution of Naadir Tharpe was a key to the entire season for KU, and we saw how that worked out. Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp can play more as sophomores than they did as freshmen, but KU could use one more. Self’s best teams, for the most part, have had multiple ball-handlers on the floor at the same time. He’s tended to prefer two combo guards over one true point guard and, well, this is just speculation but there’s an unsigned four-star combo guard at Tharpe’s old high school.
Come home now big fella @Original_Turner
When I interviewed Turner, and his father David Turner, earlier this year his father mentioned one specific element they are looking for in his son's next stop.
"He wants to play with a point guard," David Turner said.
That would mean Myles wants to play with a really good point guard, which SMU should have.
SMU has signed 6-foot-5 point guard Emmanuel Mudiay of Prime Prep Academy; he is the highest-ranked recruit SMU has ever signed.
Despite Turner originally saying SMU was not on his official list, SMU head coach Larry Brown kept showing up to practices and games in an effort to change Turner's mind.
There may not be a better coach of point guards in basketball, college or pro, and the chance to play with Mudiay could sway Turner to be a Pony. If Turner does attend SMU, a team that already looked to be the best in the state could easily be a preseason top-15 team next season.
Hell, stranger things have happened. Like, for instance, SMU is coached by Larry Brown. Or that SMU basketball is good.
LJW Photos: McDonald’s All-American Event
McDAAG Official Box Score (pdf)
Nike Hoop Summit (Saturday 4/12 on ESPN2 at 4 PM PDT)
Aaron Harrison refused to sub in to the Nike Hoop Summit last year. That & more prompted a serious reform this year:
Every player on the 2014 roster has played at an official USA basketball event outside of Myles Turner (undecided), Kelly Oubre (Kansas), James Blackmon (Indiana), Cliff Alexander (Kansas), and Reid Travis (Stanford).
With that said, Turner, Oubre, Travis, and Blackmon all took part in the 2014 USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team mini-camp last October, which gave the coaching staff an extended look at potential players to bring to the Nike Hoop Summit. This was the first time USA Basketball brought in potential Hoop Summit candidates for such an early look at trying to evaluate and shape the make-up of the group , which tells you everything you need to know about how much they want to win this game.
Alexander's USA Basketball experience is perhaps the most unconventional, as he won the 2013 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Championship.
Needless to say, the 2014 team doesn't come without pedigree. They certainly aren't lacking in the talent department. Okafor, Turner, Alexander and Travis will control the paint inside, while Pinson, Oubre, Winslow, and Johnson bring athleticism and defense at the wing spots, and Jones and Berry run the show at point.
While loaded with talent, Team USA certainly isn't flawless. They're short on shooters who can space the floor and knock down shots, as Blackmon is the only true 3-point marksman on the roster. Jones is a capable shooter, but outside of that Team USA is filled with slashing, defensive-minded wings, and bigs who do most of their damage in the paint.
Then there's the age factor. Team USA is made up of mostly 1995 and 1996 players. The World Team, on the other hand, has four 1994 guys and players with experience in the EuroLeague, ACB, France Pro A, China, and FIBA events.
USA 1st practice report
DraftExpress: International roster measurements
A look back in photos and videos at previous Hoops Summit games
4/10/14, 9:06 AM
Kansas' Bill Self will do an in-home visit with five-star guard Malik Newman today.
In a thrilling quarterfinal contest in the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament, Montaque “Teki” Gill-Caesar stood out on his very talented Huntington (W.V) Prep team as they defeated La Lumiere (IN), 65-63.
Gill-Caesar, ranked 18th in ESPN’s Super 60 for the Class of 2015, finished with a game-high 20 points in the game played at Christ the King High School in Queens.
...He doesn’t have any target date for when he will make his choice.
With that in mind, he did mention that Kansas, Michigan State, Florida State, Kentucky, Illinois, Providence and West Virginia have been recruiting him the hardest of late, but he does not have any visits planned in the near future.
Gill-Caesar also had time to speak about what it’s been like having to follow Wiggins as the next highly touted prospect from Huntington Prep; the two played together last year in Wiggins’ final high school season.
“It feels good,” he said. “It puts a little pressure on me, but you know, pressure is going to be there every day, not even with basketball, but just with life so you’ve got to learn how to deal with it regardless. It feels special to be compared to someone like that. Just his personality off the court and on the court. Just to have people looking at you like that, someone you’re compared to, it feels good.”
Gill-Caesar mentioned that the two of them had kept in touch this year and Wiggins offered him a bit of a preview on “how much different college is compared to high school.”
adidas Uprising Spring/Summer Events
My Late Night in the Phog videos, KU Alumni games videos, 2011-12 Border War videos, Legends of the Phog videos, KC Prep Invitational, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos and more now on YouTube