For a 7-foot teenager, the human back can be a fragile and delicate thing. For the moment, the same can be said about Kansas' hopes for a long March run.
Kansas announced Monday that freshman center Joel Embiid will miss this week’s Big 12 Tournament and likely the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament after a spinal specialist in Los Angeles confirmed the initial diagnosis of a stress fracture in Embiid’s back.
“Based on that, this weekend is out,” Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement released Monday night. “Next weekend, we feel like is a long shot, but the doctors are hopeful that if Joel works hard in rehab and progresses that it is possible that he could play in the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament if our team is fortunate enough to advance.”
…Embiid has already missed two games and is halfway through the recovery process, according to KU. But the latest developments cast a long shadow on the Jayhawks’ chances in the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re all very disappointed for Joel,” Self said. “He’s worked so hard and improved so much. He’s been one of the most improved players in the country in such a short amount of time. The most important thing is for Joel to get healthy. We were hopeful, Joel was hopeful, the doctors were hopeful that his body would respond more rapidly to rehab and that has not been the case.”
…“We said before that we were going to hold him out this week, that’s what we’ve done,” Self said on Monday afternoon. “And certainly we want him healthy when we get to the NCAA Tournament. As bad as we’d like to play him this weekend, I’m not going to risk that.”
…“Our team feels bad for Joel,” said Self, who added that he won’t comment on Embiid’s day-to-day status moving forward. “But this in no way changes our original postseason goals and our team will rally around this.”
A spine specialist in Los Angeles determined Monday that Embiid is in the middle of the healing process. The 7-footer from Cameroon initially hurt his back on Feb. 8 against West Virginia, then after returning to action, aggravated the injury on March 1 at Oklahoma State. He has been shut down since then, missing the final two games of the regular season while being treated daily.
“Based on that (doctor’s report), this weekend is out,” Self said of the Big 12 tourney. “Next weekend, we feel like is a longshot, but the doctors are hopeful that if Joel works hard in rehab and progresses that it is possible that he could play in the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament if our team is fortunate enough to advance.”
The injury will not require surgery.
Doctors who met with Embiid on Monday morning in California explained that they feel their rehabilitation program has proven successful and assured Self and his staff that Embiid will fully recover and return to basketball within a few weeks.
KUAD Press Release on Joel Embiid
Back to Lawrence and GREAT weather>> better than LA's!!! Tired though #kubball #WeAllFromAfrica
3/10/14, 7:15 AM
Me & JoJo on the block? #unguardable
3/10/14, 7:47 PM
@jojo_embiid lets do work big fella
Good luck to Coach Self, staff, and our men's BB team. Time for everyone to step up. No, the sky isn't falling! Rock Chalk!
If there was no ability, there would be no pressure. Embrace the privlege of pressure
Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins added another piece of hardware to his already successful rookie season when Sporting News named him All-America Second Team Monday.
Wiggins scored a Kansas freshman record 41 points at West Virginia in KU's regular-season finale on March 8. The Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, guard leads Kansas with a 16.8 scoring average, the best among Big 12 freshmen and eighth overall in the conference. Wiggins has made 37 threes this season and is the team leader with 36 steals after his career-high five at WVU, the most by any Jayhawk this season. Wiggins' 5.9 rebound average is third on the team. A gifted shooter, Wiggins also ranks among the Big 12 leaders in field goal percentage (11th at 45.2) and free throw percentage (10th at 76.5).
A unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection, who is also the conference freshman of the year, Wiggins is a three-time Big 12 Newcomer of the Week and was the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week on Jan. 28. Additionally, he is on most every national player and freshman of the year ballot.
Last season, Kansas' Jeff Withey was named to the Sporting News All-America Second Team and Ben McLemore the third team.
Wiggins Awards (2013-14)
• Sporting News All-America Second Team
• Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (3.9.14)
• Big 12 Freshman of the Year (Big 12, AP)
• All-Big 12 First Team (unanimous selection, Big 12, AP)
• Big 12 All-Newcomer Team
• Wooden Award Final Ballot (1 of 15)
• Wayman Tisdale Award Finalist by USBWA (1 of 6)
• Oscar Robertson Trophy Finalist List by USBWA (1 of 15)
• Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Candidate (1 of 30)
• Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week (1.28.14)
• Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (1.27.14)
• Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (11.18.13)
Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins is the final Big 12 Men's Basketball Newcomer of the Week for the 2013-14 season. The honor is voted on by a media panel which covers the conference and Wiggins is recognized as top newcomer for the third time this season.
Wiggins averaged 25.0 points and six rebounds on 60 percent shooting as the Jayhawks recorded a 1-1 week, defeating Texas Tech before falling at West Virginia. The Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, guard had his top performance in Morgantown as he recorded a career-high 41 points on 12-of-18 (.667) shooting. It was the second-best scoring total in the Big 12 this year and also the second-highest point total in a game by a freshman in Big 12 history. Wiggins' 41 points was also a Kansas freshman record. He added five steals and four blocked shots against the Mountaineers becoming the only Division I player in the past 15 seasons with at least five steals and four rejections in a 40-point game.
Wiggins' three Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors in 2013-14 tie for the second most for a Jayhawk in league history. Last season Jayhawk Ben McLemore also had three. Tyshawn Taylor's four newcomer of the week honors in 2008-09 are the most by a Jayhawk.
KUAD: Coach Self’s weekly presser
KUAD: Top Seeded Kansas Heads to Big 12 Championship
1. Kansas can't get to the Final Four without a healthy Joel Embiid.
The Jayhawks have the highest ceiling out of any team in college basketball, but the look of this team is extremely different without its 7-foot freshman center. Embiid (11.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) missed Kansas' past two games with a lingering back issue, and is out for the Big 12 tournament and likely the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks still have a lottery pick in Andrew Wiggins and a gifted interior scorer in Perry Ellis, but the dynamic of this team vastly changes without a rim protector like Embiid. With a front line of Wiggins, Ellis and Embiid, Kansas can pummel teams on the interior with its length and athleticism. Without Embiid, Bill Self's squad is just another team in that will enter the field of 68 with a chance to do some damage.
There’s a chance, however, that Embiid could return if the Jayhawks make a deep run.
But he shouldn’t. Not this week. Not next weekend. Not even if Kansas reaches Dallas.
The potential No. 1 pick should rest and rehab in preparation for the NBA draft.
…It would be ideal for all parties involved if Kansas advanced in the Big Dance and Embiid got healthy enough to play without risking additional injury.
Self, however, isn’t talking like a coach who believes that scenario is likely. He sounds like someone who is preparing to move forward without the potential All-America center.
Embiid’s back has been bothering him for months. What makes anyone think he’ll miraculously recover in a few weeks? And even if he does, why jeopardize his professional future and seven-figure salary?
Sure, college basketball is about the kids, the game, the purity of competition, the amateurism, the team and the blah, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. When you’re a possible top-three pick, draft positioning has to be considered. And what if the injury lingers? He’d be better off getting paid to rehab in the league (Jared Sullinger, Nerlens Noel) than waiting in Lawrence another season and possibly watching his draft stock take a hit. (See Mitch McGary.)
Tarik Black is all of a sudden a critical piece for Kansas.
Bill Self announced on Monday night that his starting center Joel Embiid won't play in the Big 12 tournament and might not return until the latter rounds of the NCAA Tournament. What does that mean for the Jayhawks? A bigger role for Tarik Black (4.8 points, 3.3 rebounds). The 6-9 big man transferred to Kansas from Memphis to be part of a deep run in the field of 68 and now he'll get a chance to have a major role on one of the more talented teams in the country. Black has been a bit of an afterthought this season because of Embiid's presence, but he's still a player that boasts NCAA Tournament experience and has regularly competed against other elite big men. Put the 6-9 veteran in bold print. He'll stay there until when and if Embiid comes back healthy.
VIDEO: Wayne Simien gives Bonnie Bernstein a tour of the University of Kansas
3/9/14, 8:22 PM
Congrats to my KU Bros @CoachBradford21 & @JeffBoschee on winning that conference title today!!! #RoysBoysCoaching #MoreRingsToOurCollection
Your 2014 MIAA men's basketball champions!!!! pic.twitter.com/Giq0nuBwDz
3/9/14, 7:28 PM
S/O to coaches frm the @KUHoops fam on championship seasons @CoachDManning @CoachBBallard @CoachBradford21 @JeffBoschee @YouncofskiHoops ...
Tyshawn Taylor began the year as a teammate of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. This was to be his second season in the NBA, a backup point guard for the Brooklyn Nets.
Then the Nets traded Taylor to the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 18. The Pelican released him four days later.
Next thing Taylor knew, he was trying to crack the lineup of the Maine Red Claws.
Taylor made his first start for Maine on Sunday and had the Red Claws offense purring. Taylor almost got a triple-double, with 33 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds as Maine routed the Fort Wayne Mad Ants 131-106 at the Portland Expo.
The Red Claws improved to 17-23. Fort Wayne, which entered the game with the second best record in the NBA D-League, dropped to 24-15.
University of Kansas will be spotlighted in a series of feature stories this week on Big12Sports.com. KU was established in 1866 in Lawrence, Kan., and boasts an enrollment of 28,718.
Highlighted in this week's installment are the following student-athletes:
Tuesday, March 11: Lindsay Vollmer (Track & Field)
Wednesday, March 12: Chase Hanna (Men's Golf)
Thursday, March 13: Alex Jones (Softball)
Friday, March 14: Jordan Piche (Baseball)
The Big 12's In Focus program was established in 2008. In its sixth year, the program uses a network of student writers at each of the league's 10 campuses. Each week during the athletic season a different Big 12 institution is featured on the Conference's official website. Campus correspondents put Big 12 student-athletes "In Focus," providing a unique perspective of the various competitors who participate in Big 12 athletics.
Big 12 Sports
Vote for Wiggs for the Wooden Award
“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
KU Alumni Big 12 Tournament Events and Info
VisitKC.com Guide to the Big 12 Tournament: Maps, parking, events, pep rallies, etc
ESPN Big 12 Tourney Preview
Donning a USS West Virginia hat handed to him by a military veteran after Saturday’s upset of Kansas, Bob Huggins suddenly looked like a confident commander and not the coach of a sinking ship.
West Virginia, which had dropped four of five games to tumble out of NCAA consideration, closed the regular season with a dose of adrenaline by knocking off the No. 8 Jayhawks 92-86.
While the victory earned Huggins a $25,000 bonus, he joked that taxes could reduce that to only $10,000. More than incentive clauses, however, Huggins was interested in the payoff that could await his team when the conference tournament opens Wednesday in Kansas City.
Currently, West Virginia projects as an NIT team. But by finishing .500 in the nation’s toughest league and matching Baylor for sixth place, the Mountaineers (17-14, 9-9) could catch the selection committee’s focus by winning games against a resume-boosting obstacle course next week.
While West Virginia earned a first-round bye, it’s quarterfinal opponent on Thursday night will be third-seeded Texas, which dominated both regular-season meetings. That game’s survivor likely would play the Oklahoma-Baylor winner in the semifinals.
“We’re going to have opportunities to really help our RPI and get quality wins,” Huggins said. “We’ve just got to go win some games.”
Jason Capel's fourth year at Appalachian State: 21 losses, an RPI in the 330s and a scandal over a point guard he won't release. Yikes.
The Big East tournament will begin this week with only two teams -- Villanova and Creighton -- locks for the NCAA Tournament.
And that's pretty amazing. The new formation of the Big East began this season with hopes of being a five- or six-bid league, but after the regular season the entire conference is a major mystery after the Wildcats and Bluejays. Xavier, Providence, St. John's and Georgetown are all very much on the bubble and unless one of those four teams wins the Big East tournament and earns the conference's automatic bid, it's hard to see anyone in that quartet feeling safe until it hears its name on Selection Sunday. The Big East has had some bad luck this year with injuries and some off-court issues which affected the available personnel on certain teams, but after Villanova and Creighton there's no guarantees that anyone will enter Madison Square Garden on Thursday feeling that they're safely in the field of 68. The Red Storm will play the Friars in Thursday's quarterfinals in what is a virtual "do or die" game for both teams, while Xavier will take on a Marquette team coming off back-to-back double-overtime losses by a combined two points. Expect to see some desperate teams this week at the World's Most Famous Arena.
Duke and Kansas both remain viable options for uncommitted 2014 McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American Myles Turner despite the fact that both already have committed bigs in this class.
The 6-foot-11 Turner out of Euless (TX) Trinity has now taken officials to those two along with Ohio State and Oklahoma State, and will take his last visit to Texas, David Turner told SNY.tv. It’s possible he could also take an unofficial to Kentucky.
The Duke visit this past weekend for the North Carolina game went extremely well.
“The Duke visit was incredible, man,” David said. “Meeting Coach K, hearing his plan for Myles and knowing that he definitely has a vision for how it would work with him and [Jahlil] Okafor and Justise [Winslow] and Tyus [Jones] and all them playing together, and whoever comes back.
“We all know Jabari [Parker]‘s not coming back, he’s just too good of a player.”
Asked if Coach K told him that, David said, “No, that’s me saying that. He’s the best player in college basketball without a doubt. Hands down.”
…Asked if they were seriously considering Duke, David said: ”Absolutely, we wouldn’t have gone on the visit if we weren’t. I mean, every visit we take we’re serious. We’re not just wasting the guys’ time.”
Turner and his father visited Kansas last Wednesday prior to the Duke visit.
“Kansas was a great visit,” David said. “Myles had a great visit there.”
Like Duke, Kansas has a pledge from a big man in Naismith High School Player of the Year Cliff Alexander.
“Coach [Bill] Self and Coach [Norm] Roberts, just watching them run their practices I could see where Myles would fit into the system,” David said. “They just had it going. If Joel Embiid goes to the NBA, I could see where Myles would plug right into where he would be. If Joel Embiid stays, I could see where they could help each other get better.
“The same thing with Duke. I could see where Jahlil and Myles in practice could help each other get better. Myles has great opportunities in front of him.”
David said the last visit would be to in-state school Texas, but no date is set.
“Exactly,” he said. “That’s going to be our last visit. We haven’t set a date yet. We did promise them. They’ve been on us for a long time. They’re the hometown school, we promised them the last visit.”
…Turner will be very busy in April with the McDonald’s and Jordan Games, as well as the Nike Hoop Summit. He will play with and against recruits from Duke, Kansas and Kentucky at those events, and will use those games to evaluate what it’s like playing with some of those players.
“Myles has a very busy April so we’re trying to get it done a soon as possible,” David said of a decision.
Jordan Brand Classic Rosters announced (Alexander, Oubre, Turner)
Thank you to all the coaches that have recruited me thus far. So Thankful!! pic.twitter.com/UoT4SYj7Wt