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Kansas freshman C Embiid entering NBA Draft

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Apr 09 2014 04:51:15 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 09 2014 05:34:44 PM CDT
Joel Embiid, Kansas Jayhawks, 2013

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Kansas freshman Joel Embiid declared for the 2014 NBA Draft on Wednesday, the 7-foot center announced at a press conference.

"I just want to thank God first for giving me this opportunity to come to the (United States) and play ball," Embiid said as he sat alongside coach Bill Self at Allen Fieldhouse.

"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, the 2014 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, broke the Kansas freshman record for blocked shots with 72 and his 2.6 blocked shots per game finished second in the league.

Named to the 2014 All-Big 12 Second Team, Embiid led Kansas with 8.1 rebounds per game -- also a school freshman record -- and sixth in the Big 12.

The Cameroon native averaged 11.2 points per game and his 62.6 field-goal percentage broke yet another KU rookie record.

He also was named to the 2014 Freshman All-America Team, along with teammate Andrew Wiggins, by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

On March 10, Kansas announced that Embiid would miss the final two regular-season games and the Big 12 Championship due to a stress fracture in his lower back. He was sidelined from the Jayhawks' two NCAA Tournament games. The injury does not require surgery and Embiid has continued a rehabilitation program.

"I don't think anybody could say Jo was making a poor decision by entering the draft," Self said. "Under almost all circumstances this would be the obvious choice to make. The thing with Jo, what he was weighing was he's still so young in the sport."

According to ESPN.com, it's likely that Embiid, Wiggins and Duke freshman Jabari Parker -- if he chooses to leave -- will be the top three picks in the draft. Wiggins already has announced he will leave for the NBA after one season in Lawrence, while Parker has yet to make a formal decision.