Joel Embiid Dominates Oklahoma State, Now Firmly Entrenched as Potential No. 1 | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / July 14.
  • Joel Embiid Dominates Oklahoma State, Now Firmly Entrenched as Potential No. 1

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    Wiggins and EmbiidBy JOSH NEWMAN
    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    If there was any doubt remaining as to how good Joel Embiid is right now and how good he could be with some more seasoning, those questions should have been put to rest on Saturday afternoon.

    Kansas’ 7-foot freshman out of The Rock School (Fla.) by way of Cameroon had a career effort against Oklahoma St. and he did it in front of a CBS audience, finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks as the Jayhawks outlasted probable 2014 Lottery pick Marcus Smart and the Cowboys, 80-78, at Allen Fieldhouse.

    That monster effort prompted DraftExpress to move Embiid to No. 1 in its 2014 NBA Mock Draft on Saturday evening, with Jayhawks classmate Andrew Wiggins at No. 2 and Duke freshman sensation Jabari Parker No. 3. That order echoes that of ESPN’s Chad Ford, whose Big Board was recently changed to reflect a top 3 of Embiid, Wiggins and Parker. 

    “I told Joel Embiid when he stepped on campus, ‘You’re going to be the No. 1 pick, whenever you come out, when the time is right,'” Kansas head coach Bill Self told reporters postgame.

    “I’m not saying it’s going to be this year. But if he comes out, and he times it right, he can be the No. 1 pick in the draft.”

    With each passing game, it appears likely the right time for Embiid to leave Lawrence is going to be whenever the Jayhawks finish this season. He came into Saturday averaging 10.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game while shooting a gaudy 67 percent from the foul line. That production at the highest level of college basketball has come despite the fact he did not even pick up the game until the age of 16.

    Part of Embiid’s attraction stems from the fact he is a true center and would continue to be one in the NBA, which has few of those left these days. There are three true big men projected to go in the first nine picks this June, with 6-foot-10 Indiana freshmen Noah Vonleh (No. 8) and 7-foot Kentucky sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 9) joining Embiid.

    “If we would just remember to throw it to him, he is pretty good, that would probably help our team,” Self said. “If you think about it, Perry (Ellis), Wayne (Selden Jr.) and (Andrew) Wiggins, who would have thought we would win the game with those guys having off-days the way they did. That means the other guys stepped up and played well. I think when we go down to Stillwater, we will see a better team. I am not predicting anything, but our guys will see a better team than what we played today.”

    Wiggins had been the presumed No. 1 pick in many reputable mock drafts for the last 18 months. Either way, there is a very real chance Kansas loses three freshmen to the NBA Draft this spring. Aside from Embiid and Wiggins, 6-foot-6 shooting guard Selden Jr. is projected to go 23rd overall by DraftExpress.

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