LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self said Monday he expects center Joel Embiid to play in the NCAA tournament.
Embiid was in Los Angeles to get a second opinion from a specialist about his ailing lower back, a trip Self said was planned.
“We’ve done exactly what we said all along we were going to do except the re-evaluation took place on Monday as opposed to Sunday,” Self said. “He’ll see the doctor today and we anticipate getting the exact same report that we got before. Maybe a little bit different as far as therapy or something like that.”
Self said he hopes the results will help him determine whether to play Embiid during this week’s Big 12 Tournament or wait until the NCAA tournament next week.
“I don’t see a scenario where he wouldn’t play in the postseason,” Self said. “I see a scenario where he possibly couldn’t play this weekend.”
A potential top choice in the NBA draft should he choose to declare, Embiid sat out Kansas’ final two regular season games, a home victory against Texas Tech and a road loss against West Virginia. The Jayhawks had already clinched the outright Big 12 title.
Embiid’s back started giving him problems against West Virginia on Feb. 8, and later that month he took five days off. He aggravated the injury March 1 at Oklahoma State.
Embiid is averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for Kansas, which will play in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals on Thursday against either Oklahoma State or Texas Tech.
“As bad as we’d like to play him this weekend I’m not going to risk that by playing him this weekend if the doctor says don’t risk it,” Self said. “If he can’t go a couple of times during the course of the week then I think it would probably behoove us to go ahead and rest him until next week.”