Kansas' Joel Embiid declares for 2014 NBA draft

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Joel Embiid is leaving Kansas after just one season. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images Sport)

(Cooper Neill/Getty Images Sport)

Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid declared for the NBA draft at a press conference on Wednesday.

“I just want to thank God first for giving me this opportunity to come to the [United States] and play ball,” Embiid said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I want to thank the coaching staff, my teammates, the fans — everyone that’s helped me through my journey. After thinking a lot, I’ve decided to declare for the NBA Draft.”

Embiid, 20, averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 23.1 minutes for the Jayhawks this season. He was shut down in early March due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix placed Embiid at No. 2 on his latest big board.

Let's be clear: Embiid's back injury isn't raising red flags among NBA executives -- yet. Several executives with likely lottery picks told SI.com that they will wait to get a closer look at Embiid's medicals before moving him down on their boards. For now, they still see Embiid as a strong defender with high-level physical tools and the form and footwork to develop into an elite two-way center.

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