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Kansas Jayhawks freshman big man Joel Embiid is out for the Big 12 tournament and will likely miss the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.
The 7-foot Cameroon native went to Los Angeles for a second opinion on his ailing back on Monday. Jayhawks coach Bill Self told ESPN.com earlier in the day he was confident that Embiid would play in the NCAA tourney, and thought there was a chance he could play in the Big 12 tournament.
However, after Embiid met with a spinal specialist, the initial stress fracture prognosis was confirmed and he was ruled out of the Big 12 tourney and is unlikely to play the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.
|A spine specialist confirmed Joel Embiid's stress fracture prognosis. He will miss the Big 12 tourney and is unlikely to play during the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.|
"Based on that, this weekend (in the Big 12 Championship) is out," Self said in a statement. "Next weekend, we feel like is a longshot, but the doctors are hopeful that if Joel works hard in rehab and progresses that it is possible that he could play in the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament if our team is fortunate enough to advance."
Embiid won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors and is considered the leading candidate to be selected No. 1 in the June NBA Draft -- if he elects to leave school after this season. He averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game this season.
According to Kansas, the injury will not require surgery and Embiid will return to the court in a few weeks. Embiid sat out the final two regular-season games.
"We're all very disappointed for Joel," Self said. "He's worked so hard and improved so much. He's been one of the most improved players in the country in such a short amount of time. The most important thing is for Joel to get healthy. We were hopeful, Joel was hopeful, the doctors were hopeful that his body would respond more rapidly to rehab and that has not been the case."
"Everyone is 100 percent confident that Joel will heal and be back to normal soon, but the most important thing is that he gets well," Self said. "We're certainly not going to put him out there unless the doctors, his family and Joel are ready for him to go. I know how bad he wants it, and that he will work his butt off to put him in a position where if our team is successful and fortunate enough to advance, he could return in later rounds."