Kansas C Embiid will miss Big 12 tourney, two NCAA games

Joel Embiid sat out the team's final two games due to a lingering back injury.

Denny Medley

Kansas center Joel Embiid will miss the Big 12 tournament this weekend, Bill Self said in a statement. 

Self said it’s a "longshot" for Embiid to return for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, but that it was possible he could play later in the tournament if Kansas advances. 

Kansas originally called the freshman’s injury a back strain, but acknowledged this weekend that the injury was more serious than previously believed. Embiid flew to Los Angeles on Sunday to get a second opinion, where a specialist confirmed that he had a stress fracture in his back. Surgery will not be required. 

"I really believe — and of course I’m biased — when he’s healthy and playing well he has the potential to impact the game on both ends as much as anybody in the country," Self said on Monday. 

Embiid missed three games this season with a back injury, including the final two of the regular season. Self elected to sit Embiid after he aggravated the injury in a loss to Oklahoma State. 

"From this point forward, it is not our policy to comment any further on our players’ day-to-day treatment unless there is significant change in playing status," Self said. "Our team feels bad for Joel, but this in no way changes our original postseason goals and our team will rally around this."

Embiid was honored as the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year and averages 2.6 blocks per game, second most in the Big 12. He also averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The 7-foot native of Cameroon is a possible No. 1 selection in this summer’s NBA Draft, if he elects to forego his final three seasons of eligibility.