Campus Corner

Georges Niang: Former Iowa State player says KU’s best trash-talker was Joel Embiid

Iowa State’s Georges Niang, center, was always a formidable foe for Big 12 opponents.
Iowa State’s Georges Niang, center, was always a formidable foe for Big 12 opponents. rsugg@kcstar.com

Former Iowa State forward Georges Niang says an unlikely player was Kansas’ best trash-talker during his career: one-and-done forward Joel Embiid.

“Just because whatever you could get out of him that you could understand I thought was pretty funny,” Niang said with a laugh, “and he was pretty slick with it.”

Niang, who is training in Los Angeles before the NBA draft, joined us on our SportsBeat KC podcast this week while discussing a number of KU-related topics.

One was the reception he received on KU’s senior night following an 85-78 Jayhawks victory, as Niang was given a standing ovation after the game by the Allen Fieldhouse crowd.

“I was actually really shocked. If you ever see my face on TV, I didn’t know what to think,” Niang said. “Never in a million years did I ever think that place would give me a standing ovation. I was a little thrown a little bit off guard, but needless to say, it was much appreciated. Those fans are awesome for doing that. I have nothing but respect for all them and what they stand for.”

When asked for the memory that immediately comes to mind when he thinks about KU, Niang recalled his first game against the Jayhawks when a Ben McLemore three at the end of regulation forced overtime at Allen Fieldhouse before a 97-89 KU victory.

“I thought we had the game won,” Niang said. “It looked like it was going left, but it banked in.”

Niang didn’t hold back when talking about his team’s 108-96 overtime home loss to KU that year. The end of the game included a no-call when Niang appeared to take a charge on Elijah Johnson then a reach-in call on Niang in the final seconds that gave Johnson two free-throw attempts that tied it.

I made the mistake in the podcast of calling it a “phantom foul, sort of.”

“You said, ‘Sort of’ phantom foul? Is that what you think, or is that what actually happened?” Niang said jokingly.

He later continued.

“The foul was called on me. Did you miss the charge before that? Or did I grab Elijah Johnson under the hoop? I don’t know,” Niang deadpanned. “There was something called, and you live and you learn. I’m not going to hold a grudge against it. I felt like that motivated me to have a better college career. … You have some tribulations that helped propel me forward to stay motivated.”

Niang, who participated in last week’s NBA combine, was roommates there with KU’s Wayne Selden. The two — they ribbed each other over social media last week — previously played together at Tilton Prep School in New Hampshire.

The SportsBeat KC podcast also is available on iTunes.

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell

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