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Embiid, mentor refute report that he’s entering NBA Draft

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 27, 2014, at 10:05 a.m.

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LAWRENCE – An online report says Kansas freshman Joel Embiid is headed for the NBA Draft, but he and his mentor have tweeted Thursday that he hadn’t made up his mind.

Yahoo NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski reported early Thursday morning, citing anonymous sources, that Embiid, the 7-foot possible No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, will leave Lawrence after one injury-shortened season.

But Embiid, in a Twitter exchange Thursday morning with incoming Kansas forward Cliff Alexander, indicated that he is still mulling the decision.

“(H)aven’t made a decision yet,” Embiid wrote, in a tweet directed toward Alexander.

Alexander had previously tweeted: “Good luck to you big fella @jojo_embiid”

Kansas coach Bill Self said Thursday morning that he was unaware of any decision.

“He hasn’t said anything to us,” Self said via text message.

Self previously said there was no timetable for Embiid’s decision, while Embiid said he would consult with his family, coaches and mentor, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, a veteran forward with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Mbah a Moute, who played collegiately at UCLA, also pushed back against the Yahoo Sports report, tweeting at Wojnarowski: “[J]oel has not yet made a decision!”

It was more than three years ago that Mbah a Moute discovered Embiid at a basketball camp in their native Cameroon and immediately noticed his talent and potential. Mbah a Moute helped direct Embiid to Montverde Academy in Florida for his junior season before he finished out his high school career at The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla.

Embiid would sign with Kansas and become one of the nation’s best centers during his freshman season, before a stress fracture in his back derailed his season. He missed the Jayhawks’ last six games, including a season-ending loss to Stanford on Sunday.

“It’ll be a tough decision,” Embiid said in the moments after the loss.

If Embiid, 20, declares for the draft, a decision that the Yahoo report states will be formalized with an announcement soon, he would be betting that NBA teams will still look favorably upon his unique skill-set in spite of the fact that his only college season was cut short because of the back injury.

The NBA deadline for underclassmen to officially declare for the draft is April 27, but a unilateral NCAA rule states that underclassmen that would like to declare for the draft and test the waters without hiring an agent have until April 15 to withdraw their name from the draft.

Some college coaches have been critical of the earlier NCAA date. And in essence, it provides an incentive for underclassmen to stay quiet on their draft decision until closer to the NBA deadline. As long as college players don’t officially declare for the draft, they can bypass the NCAA date and wait until April 27 to make a decision.

The report on Embiid’s future comes to light on the heels of fellow freshman teammate Wayne Selden Jr.’s announcement that he’ll return next season and not head to the NBA early.

Freshman wing Andrew Wiggins, meanwhile, is a near lock to enter the draft. Wiggins has never shied away from the idea that he would be one-and-done at KU. He let his intentions be known last October, and reminisced about his last game at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this month. He’s projected to go in the top three of the draft, if not No. 1 overall.

The Yahoo report says “Embiid has progressed in settling on agent representation, but no final decision has been made, sources said.”

Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks for KU this season.

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