As expected and as reported here Tuesday, Joel Embiid declared for the NBA Draft during a press conference at Kansas on Wednesday.
“After thinking a lot, I decided to declare for the NBA,” the 7-footer said.
DraftExpress.com has Embiid projected as the No. 2 pick behind fellow Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, meaning Kansas could go 1-2 in the Draft just as Kentucky did in 2012 with Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
A native of Cameroon, Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks this season en route to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, but didn’t play after March 1 due to a back injury.
Assuming medical tests show his back is structurally fine, NBA personnel aren’t overly concerned about his health going forwrad.
“Every team’s doctors will determine just how bad his injury is long term,” one NBA scout said.
Kansas coach Bill Self has said he always believed Embiid would eventually be a No. 1 overall pick — although he wasn’t certain it would be after his freshman season.
“I don’t think he could’ve made a bad decision, but I think he made a real good decision,” Self said. “He’s ridiculously bright. He’s hungry. He’s motivated. In the end, he’s got a chance to be standing on top.”
Self added: “He’s going to have his challenges, but he’s ready to meet those challenges.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.