Kansas coach Bill Self: Center Joel Embiid will play in postseason
Joel Embiid traveled to California on Sunday to see a specialist regarding the back injury that kept him out of Kansas' final two regular-season games, according to Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star.
But Kansas coach Bill Self said he is "100 percent confident" the center will play in the postseason, he told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com on Monday.
"This was the plan all along," Self said, referring to Embiid getting a second opinion. "We don't anticipate anything new, but we owe it to Joel and his family to know exactly what we're dealing with.
"I'm optimistic he'll play soon," Self added. "He'll be back. I'm 100 percent optimistic he'll be back. We just don't know yet whether it will be this week [for the Big 12 tournament] or next week [for the NCAA tournament]. We're not going to put him out there until the doctors say he's ready."
No. 10 Kansas (23-8, 14-4 Big 12) is the top seed in the Big 12 tournament. The Jayhawks will play the winner of Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in a quarterfinal on Thursday.
Self said the 7-footer's injury is more "significant" than a lower-back strain, Dodd reports, although that was the term the school used last week when it initially announced the injury.
Embiid, who his averaging 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game this season, tweaked his lower back in a win over West Virginia on Feb. 8 and missed a game against TCU one week later. He averaged 14 points and 10.3 rebounds in the four games upon his return before aggravating the injury in a loss to Oklahoma State on March 1.
“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.”
Embiid set the school's freshman record with 72 blocks this season and was named the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year on Sunday by the league's coaches. SI WIRE: Duke's Jabari Parker still undecided about entering draft