The report certainly didn’t take many by surprise. Most NBA draftniks project Embiid, who averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in his first season in Lawrence, as one of the top three prospects in the upcoming draft — despite persistent back issues that date all the way to his high school days. As of Thursday morning, the 7-footer was slotted as the No. 2 pick (to Philadelphia) by both DraftExpress.com and NBADraft.net.
A KU spokesperson, when reached earlier Thursday, would not confirm the Yahoo! report and said that no announcement had been scheduled by the school.
Embiid is believed to be consulting with his inner circle regarding his pro future, a circle that includes current Minnesota Timberwolves forward Luc Mbah a Moute, a fellow Cameroonian who "discovered" the Jayhawk star at a camp in Africa and has served as a mentor ever since.
The KU big man hasn’t played since the Jayhawks’ 72-65 loss at Oklahoma State on March 1, during which Embiid fell awkwardly along the baseline, re-injuring his back in the process. The injury was diagnosed as a stress fracture, a problem that first became visually apparent during a win at TCU on Jan. 25 and one that might date back more than a year.
The center’s high school coach, Justin Harden from The Rock school in Gainesville, Fla., told FOXSportsKansasCity.com earlier this month that the freshman experienced back pain at the end of the 2012-13 season as well, most likely due to of a lack of core strength on such a tall frame. Back problems forced Embiid to miss three regular-season games, two Big 12 tournament tilts and two NCAA tourney contests, including KU’s 60-57 loss to Stanford last Sunday in the third round of the Big Dance.
Early-entry prospects have until April 27 to formally declare for the 2014 NBA Draft, but the NCAA’s deadline for early-entry withdrawal notification is April 15.
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