Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid will not play in the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament, coach Bill Self confirmed Wednesday after arriving at the team hotel.
The decision to hold Embiid out follows the same plan that Self outlined before the Big 12 tournament. Self held out a tiny bit of hope that Embiid, battling a stress fracture in his back, might return for No. 2 seed Kansas’ opening weekend, which begins against Eastern Kentucky at 3:10 p.m. Friday at the Scottrade Center. But barring some sort of unforeseen development, Embiid will remain on the sideline through the weekend.
“He’s not going to play,” Self said. “I’m not saying there couldn’t be a miraculous act occur, but we’re certainly not planning on that or expecting that.”
Self said Embiid has continued to make progress in his rehab, but he has yet to get back out on the practice floor. Kansas City Star
This is the second time this year that Embiid has been held out for consecutive games in a row. The most recent example of an injured college star translating to the pros is Kyrie Irving, although Irving has proven to be a brittle professional baller too. Embiid is missing games now because of a stress fracture in his back, an injury that tends to be occur frequently once a player has that issue. It’s far more common with veteran athletes but young guys can get over it.
Despite this setback, most NBA scouts believe Embiid is worthy of strong consideration for the number one pick in the 2014 NBA draft. – AL