Top NBA Draft Prospect Joel Embiid Not Sure He's Ready for NBA Lifestyle

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

USA Today

"Should I Stay or Should I Go" was one of the biggest hits of the British punk-rock band The Clash. It might also be an appropriate theme song for Kansas freshman and potential No. 1 pick Joel Embiid. 

If he wasn't already there, Embiid launched himself into the No. 1 overall pick conversation during Saturday's 80-78 win over ninth-ranked Oklahoma State.

The 7'0" big man scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked eight shots. Any doubts of Embiid's game being ready for the NBA have pretty much vanished. 

Well, except those from Embiid himself.

According to ESPN's Dana O'Neil, the 19-year-old center with a 7'5" wingspan and skills that belie his lack of experience feels he may not be ready for the life of an NBA basketball player.

One day I was talking to [Kansas head coach Bill Self] and I was like, 'Yeah, I don't even know how to drive yet.' Eating healthy. I don't know how to do that yet. I don't know if I feel like I'm ready for all of this.

Embiid's trepidation makes sense. He's only been in America since he was 17, and according to the story from O'Neil, it wasn't long ago that the only career in sports the Cameroonian native could imagine was that of a volleyball player.

In his mind, he's not only still learning the game of basketball, but also the culture. And he thinks more time in college may help with the transition. On his recent studying of Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal, Embiid said:

I want to be the best at my position one day. I'm trying to learn everything and what other people did. All of the great big men went to college at least two or three years. I think it's a big factor. I don't know if it will always work, but I think it's the best choice.

If he does indeed choose to forego the star-studded 2014 draft, there will be plenty of consequences.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman is just one of many draft experts who've recently moved Embiid to No. 1 on their boards. Removing him from the discussion would obviously help the prospects of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum and others.

It might also send some NBA scouts and executives keen on landing a potential franchise center scrambling to rework their draft-day strategies.

Should he stay or should he go? Either way, Embiid will have an impact on the NBA in the summer of 2014.


For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey.