I know it’s only November and for most casual fans college basketball doesn’t exist until March, but I can’t remember a year in recent past that has been more exciting/interesting than the past month of College Basketball. The amount of players that possess NBA elite potential within the NCAA is just silly and NBA GM’s are left salivating waiting for the 2014 draft. With that said, here’s the beginning of Armchair’s breakdown of prospective lottery picks in the upcoming draft.
Cameroon native Joel Embiid is a name that many casual basketball observers wouldn’t have known going into this College Basketball season as he was minimally recruited from major blue blood basketball universities. Bill Self signed him out of The Rock Highschool in Gainesville, Florida after only playing 2 full years of organized basketball (Joel was a big soccer and volleyball player throughout his high-school career). In the fall signing period when Self signed Joel to a scholarship, many recruiting services like ESPN and Rivals didn’t even have him ranked as he hadn’t played any AAU basketball but that soon changed by the spring when both recruiting services made him a top 10 recruit based off his ‘crazy NBA potential’ alone. Embiid’s main statistical comps in college so far according to Ken Pomeroy’s (advanced statistics) website include ’08 Kevin Love, ’10 DeMarcus Cousins, and ’14 Juluis Randle.
Let’s take a look at some of Embiid film on the offensive side of the ball:
This is some game film from his game against Iona on November 19th where he went 7 for 7 from the field with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks. As the film shows, for a player of Embiid’s size, he’s incredibly quick on his feet, possesses an impressive level of touch, has great hands and his court vision is incredible. As an avid college basketball fan, watching his development throughout the first 4 games of the season is spectacular in the sense that I can’t wait to see how he looks by February. I have no doubt he’ll get better and more polished as he gets more familiar with the NCAA game and potentially becomes one of the best bigs in all of College Basketball. Here’s some more video of Embiid’s court vision in a game versus Duke on November 12th.
As of now, one of the weaknesses of Embiid’s game is his overall inexperience which definitely is shown on the defensive side of the ball. Embiid likes to leave his feet on shot fakes from smaller players (let’s be real, Embiid is going to be bigger than any player he faces this year). This will eventually take time to learn through repetition but he showed much better poise last week during the first half against Towson where he blocked three shots in 19 minutes of playing time. One of the effective parts of Embiid’s ability to block shots is that it essentially starts KU’s transition game which can be seen in this video.
His quickness and length are clearly positive tools that will continue to develop throughout the duration of the season and he’s even been quoted in the local newspapers in Lawrence that Coach Self has him watching Jeff Withey tape from previous years in an effort to further improve and learn how to better time shots. Expect his block rate to continually rise throughout the season (currently sits 80th nationally in Block%) as he already looks like a very quick learner.
Overall, I’m not here to make any NBA comparisons to Embiid as that just wouldn’t be fair to a player of his experience, but I will say that the potential, skill set and size combination in Embiid is just so rare and it’s something that NBA GM’s might not be willing to pass up. He’s currently listed as going 7th overall on DraftExpress’ 2014 NBA mock draft but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Embiid’s stock continually grow throughout the season as he is as impressive a PF/C prospect as I’ve seen in years. May wanna tune into some KU games this year (which are all broadcasted on TSN) because they also have some guy named Andrew Wiggins on their team too!
Oh, did I mention the dude can shoot the three?
— Joel-Hans Embiid (@jojo_embiid) September 15, 2013
About the Author, Michael Gray:
Baseball and basketball enthusiast as well as a former baseball blogger for my beloved Toronto Blue Jays. Expect some Midwest bias in most of my writing as I’m currently a Senior at The University of Kansas. Rock Chalk Jayhawk! You can follow him on twitter at @Jays_Fan2.