In the minutes before Kansas played Oklahoma State on Thursday afternoon, Thomas Embiid stood up from his seat in a far corner of the Sprint Center and surveyed the scene.
His son, Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid, is shut down for this weekend’s Big 12 Tournament because of a stress fracture in his back. But Thomas Embiid is still hopeful he’ll see his son play in person before the end of the season, telling The Star that his son’s back injury wasn’t “too serious.”
“It’s improving,” Thomas Embiid said. “Hopefully he can come back soon.”
Thomas Embiid and Joel’s mother, Christine, traveled to Kansas City this weekend from their native Cameroon. Thomas Embiid plans to travel back to Cameroon after the tournament but would like to return to see Kansas play in the NCAA Tournament. When asked if he thought Joel would be able to return before the end of the season, Thomas Embiid said: “I don’t know. Hopefully he can.”
Thomas Embiid said he was pleased with the way Kansas and coach Bill Self had handled his son’s back issues. He also downplayed Embiid’s looming decision to potentially enter the NBA Draft after his freshman season, saying his son would make his decision after the season.
This is Thomas Embiid’s second trip to the United States to see Joel play. He also visited in November.