Possible top pick Joel Embiid hurts foot in leadup to NBA Draft
By Rustin Dodd
By Rustin Dodd
The Kansas City Star
(MCT) — Former Kansas center Joel Embiid, who missed part of his freshman season because of an ailing back, has suffered another injury in the days before next week's NBA Draft.
Embiid injured his right foot in the lead-up to the draft, his agent, Arn Tellem, confirmed to ESPN's Chad Ford. The severity of the injury is unknown, but it's unlikely that Embiid will conduct any more pre-draft workouts before next Thursday's NBA Draft.
Embiid, a 7-foot center from Cameroon, was believed to be the front-runner to go No. 1 in the draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers, ahead of both his former teammate Andrew Wiggins and former Duke star Jabari Parker. Embiid worked out for the Cavaliers earlier this month and was scheduled to work out for the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the second overall pick, later this week, according to reports.
While the extent of the injury is unknown — one anonymous source did tell ESPN that it could be "broken" — it's certainly unfortunate timing for Embiid, whose health was a major storyline during his time at Kansas and in the months before the NBA Draft.
Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his lower back during the final weeks of his freshman season, causing him to miss both the Big 12 tournament and NCAA Tournament. He also missed a game earlier in the season while recovering from a sore back.
Embiid averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds during his freshman season, exploding onto the national scene after being a relative unknown while playing two years of high school basketball in Florida. A native of Cameroon, Embiid came to the game in his later teen years, which added a little allure to his draft stock.
If Embiid could be this good, this quickly, perhaps he could transform into a franchise center at the next level.
"He's got a terrific frame," Kansas coach Bill Self said this week. "He's a very, very, very good athlete and he's a sponge. And the fact that he's been playing three years and is this advanced is quite remarkable when you really look at the big scheme of things, especially for a big man."
Now the foot injury tacks another question mark on Embiid's future — and adds some more uncertainty in the week before the draft.