Updates from Thursday, March 27
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports Joel Embiid will declare for the 2014 NBA draft and provides the latest on the Kansas star's back injury:
Kansas star Joel Embiid – a possible No. 1 overall choice – has decided to enter the June NBA draft, sources told Yahoo Sports.
There's a strong expectation Embiid will make a full recovery, but NBA teams will closely examine the long-term fitness of the injury.
Updates from Sunday, March 23
Matt Scott of TheShiver.com provides a synopsis of Joel Embiid discussing his injury status:
Joel says he was 100% playing next week— Matt Scott (@KUTheShiver) March 23, 2014
Updates from Saturday, March 22
ESPN's Jeff Goodman provides an update on Joel Embiid's status from head coach Bill Self:
Jayhawks coach Bill Self told ESPN.com on Saturday that Embiid, who is nursing a back injury, has been ruled out of Sunday's third-round contest against the Cardinal. Embiid sat out the final two regular-season games and Self had maintained it was a "long shot" that he would be able to play in the team's second game this weekend.
Self also told ESPN.com that Embiid remains questionable for a Sweet 16 matchup, should Kansas get past Stanford. The second-seeded Jayhawks knocked off Eastern Kentucky on Friday night.
Updates from Thursday, March 20
Gary Mihoces of USA Today provides an update from Bill Self discussing Joel Embiid's likely return date:
"We said all along he would be the longest of long shots for this weekend, but that hasn't by any stretch ruled out next weekend. And he's making progress in rehab," Self said Thursday.
If Kansas advances, Self said he is "very optimistic" Embiid can return to practice next week. "If that is the case, there would be a chance he can play," said Self.
Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star provides Self's update on Embiid's status for the Round of 64:
He’s not going to play. I’m not saying there couldn’t be a miraculous act occur, but we’re certainly not planning on that or expecting that. ...
... He’s doing really well. We’ve told him that we were not going to put him on the practice floor until he does really, really well in rehab. And that’s what the doctors told us, and that’s what we were going to do all along.
He’s not far away from being out there in some form or fashion, but probably not contact.
Updates from Monday, March 17
Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv provides the latest update on Joel Embiid's nagging back injury:
Kansas coach Bill Self says injured center Joel Embiid is “progressing nicely” but won’t play in the team’s first NCAA Tournament game Friday.
“He’s progressing nicely,” Self said Monday. “The medical staff feels good about where he is, but no, there’s no update on a timeframe.”
Updates from Sunday, March 16
Head coach Bill Self updated Joel Embiid's return (via Kansas Basketball on Twitter):
Updates from Wednesday, March 12
Roch Chalk Blog provides Bill Self's thoughts on Joel Embiid's return:
"We're confident he'll play but we'll have to advance for that to happen." - Bill Self on Embiid.— Rock Chalk Blog (@RockChalkBlog) March 12, 2014
Updates from Monday, March 10
Kansas coach Bill Self provided an update on Joel Embiid, via Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star:
Joel Embiid out for the Big 12 tournament and likely the first weekend of the NCAA tourney, Bill Self says in statement.— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) March 11, 2014
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports added:
Joel Embiid stress fracture confirmed by California specialist, per KU release. Out indefinitely. That's depressing.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 11, 2014
Here is more from the release via KUAthletics.com:
The 7-0 Yaounde, Cameroon, native 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. 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," 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."
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."
Updates from Sunday, March 9
Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star provides the latest update on Joel Embiid after Michigan State's 69-67 loss to Ohio State:
The injury, though, is certainly cause for concern as No. 8 Kansas prepares for the postseason. Self said on Sunday that Embiid’s injury is more “significant” than a lower-back strain, the term used last week when KU announced Embiid would miss regular-season games against Texas Tech and West Virginia.
Self wouldn’t disclose the specific lower-back injury or condition plaguing Embiid, but he remains hopeful Embiid will be in position to be healthy for the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s nothing where he won’t be feeling great in four weeks with some rest,” Self said. “But we don’t have four weeks.”
“The whole deal is it’s not an injury that he could hurt worse,” Self said. “I don’t think we would put him back out there if it was. We’re going to evaluate him and give him the best chance to finish strong.”
Updates from Saturday, March 8
KUSports.com has the latest on Embiid:
Updates from Monday, March 3
Bill Self updated Joel Embiid's status as the regular season winds down (via Gary Bedore of KUSports.com):
Self just told me Embiid will sit two games and be reevaluated Sunday— Gary Bedore (@GaryBedore) March 3, 2014
The Kansas Jayhawks lost much more than a game on March 1 against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, as the status of starting center Joel Embiid is now in question.
While the 72-65 upset stings, Embiid's health is much more important to the Jayhawks moving forward, as CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello and ESPN's Jeff Goodman illustrate:
This Joel Embiid deal is getting worrisome for Kansas. Could barely walk after the game. They need him more than they need regular-season Ws— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 2, 2014
A KU loss pales in comparison to if Joel Embiid's back issues continue. He doesn't look right.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 2, 2014
Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star quoted head coach Bill Self as saying Embiid "tweaked" the problem area:
Bill Self on Joel Embiid: "He just tweaked his back." Not much more specific info. Just could be fragile rest of the year.— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) March 2, 2014
Embiid was in the midst of quite the game with 13 points and 13 rebounds to land his eighth double-double of the season, which was about par for the course this season for the 7'0" and 250-pound freshman.
The long-term repercussions of the injury—as hinted—are massive. The Jayhawks are once again the class of the Big 12 with the NCAA tournament on the horizon, but without one of their four big-time freshmen, they will find it tough to make a deep postseason run.
Embiid averages 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, but most importantly is a game-altering presence in the paint on defense. Without him shoring up underneath the basket, the Jayhawks' entire approach changes.
The saving grace for Kansas in all of this is its 22-7 record, which is a great mark considering the Jayhawks have played the second-toughest schedule of any team this year, according to RPI. A No. 1 seed in the tournament is still very much a possibility, which would give the team more wiggle room in regard to Embiid's recovery time.