Kansas Big Man Embiid to Miss Big 12 Tourney, At Least First Round of NCAAs | Zagsblog
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Monday / June 17.
  • Kansas Big Man Embiid to Miss Big 12 Tourney, At Least First Round of NCAAs

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    EmbiidKansas freshman center Joel Embiid will miss the upcoming Big 12 Tournament and at least the first round of the NCAA Tournament after a second opinion from a specialist in California confirmed he has a stress fracture in his back.

    The 7-foot native of Yaoundé, Cameroon is projected as a top-3 pick, potentially No. 1 overall, in the upcoming NBA Draft.

    According to a release from Kansas, Embiid met with a spinal specialist in Los Angeles on Monday morning.

    “Based on the attending physician’s examination of Embiid, combined with his extensive experience with the common basketball injury, the specialist confirmed the original stress fracture prognosis he received in Lawrence,” the release reads. “His current treatments have Embiid in the middle of the healing process, which renders him unavailable for the Big 12 Championship and unlikely to play in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

    “Based on that, this weekend (in the Big 12 Championship) is out,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Next weekend, we feel like is a longshot, but the doctors are hopeful that if Joel works hard in rehab and progresses that it is possible that he could play in the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament if our team is fortunate enough to advance.”

    Embiid last played March 1, so if he were able to return for the Sweet 16/Elite 8 weekend of March 27-30, he would have had four weeks rest.

    The injury will not require surgery. Doctors that Embiid met with in California explained that they feel their rehabilitation program has proven success and assured Self and his staff that Embiid will fully recover and return to basketball within a few weeks.

    “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.”

    Self noted that Embiid, who missed three regular-season games this season (vs. TCU, vs. TTU and at WVU) due to back pain, has already shown his dedication to the rehab process throughout the latter part of the season.

    “We’re all very disappointed for Joel,” Self said. “He’s worked so hard and improved so much. He’s been one of the most improved players in the country in such a short amount of time. The most important thing is for Joel to get healthy. We were hopeful, Joel was hopeful, the doctors were hopeful that his body would respond more rapidly to rehab and that has not been the case.”

    The 2014 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Embiid broke the KU freshman record for blocked shots with 72 and his 2.6 blocked shots per game are second in the league.

    “Everyone is 100 percent confident that Joel will heal and be back to normal soon, but the most important thing is that he gets well,” Self said. “We’re certainly not going to put him out there unless the doctors, his family and Joel are ready for him to go. I know how bad he wants it, and that he will work his butt off to put him in a position where if our team is successful and fortunate enough to advance, he could return in later rounds.”

    As for how the injury might affect Embiid’s draft stock, one NBA executive said, “I wouldn’t want to be one of the tankers now.”

    A veteran NBA scout said, “He is top 3 if he doesn’t play [again].”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. 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.

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