Joel Embiid, the Kansas Jayhawks’ 7-foot freshman center, is reportedly headed for the NBA Draft but isn’t ready to publicly announce his decision.
Citing anonymous sources, Yahoo Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski reported early Thursday morning that Embiid, the possible No. 1 pick in the draft, will leave Lawrence after one injury-shortened season.
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But Embiid didn’t make a public declaration for the draft Thursday morning, when he exchanged Twitter messages with incoming KU forward Cliff Alexander.
“(H)aven’t made a decision yet,” Embiid wrote in a tweet directed toward Alexander.
Alexander had previously tweeted: “Good luck to you big fella @jojo_embiid”
Kansas coach Bill Self and Embiid met later Thursday, and Self said Embiid told him he had not made a decision.
Self previously said there was no timetable for Embiid’s decision, while Embiid said he would consult first with his family, coaches and mentor — Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, a veteran forward with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Mbah a Moute, who played in college at UCLA, also pushed back against the Yahoo Sports report, tweeting at Wojnarowski: “(J)oel has not yet made a decision!”
It was more than three years ago that Mbah a Moute discovered Embiid at a basketball camp in their native Cameroon and immediately noticed Embiid’s talent and potential. Mbah a Moute helped direct Embiid to Montverde Academy in Florida for his junior season before he finished out his high school career at The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla.
Embiid signed with KU and became one of the nation’s best centers during his freshman season before a stress fracture developed in his back. He missed the Jayhawks’ last six games, including a season-ending loss to Stanford on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.
“It’ll be a tough decision,” Embiid said of his future in the moments after the loss.
If Embiid, 20, declares for the draft — a decision that the Yahoo report states will be formalized with an announcement soon — he would be betting that NBA teams will still look favorably upon his unique skill set in spite of the fact that his only college season was cut short because of the injury.
The NBA deadline for underclassmen to officially declare for the draft is April 27, but a unilateral NCAA rule states that underclassmen who would like to declare for the draft and test the waters without hiring an agent have until April 15 to withdraw their name from the draft.
Some college coaches have been critical of the earlier NCAA date. And in essence, it provides an incentive for underclassmen to stay quiet on their draft decision until closer to the NBA deadline. As long as college players don’t officially declare for the draft, they can bypass the NCAA date and wait until April 27 to make a decision.
The Yahoo report quotes the same sources as saying “Embiid has progressed in settling on agent representation, but no final decision has been made.”
Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for KU this season.
The report on Embiid’s future comes to light on the heels of the announcement by fellow freshman teammate Wayne Selden Jr. that he’ll return next season and not head to the NBA early.
Freshman wing Andrew Wiggins, meanwhile, is a near lock to enter the draft. Wiggins has never shied away from the idea that he would be a one-and-done player at KU. He let his intentions be known last October, and reminisced about his last game at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this month. He’s projected to be selected in the top three of the draft, if not No. 1 overall.