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Kansas won a significant recruiting battle, receiving a verbal commitment from four-star center Joel Embiid (Cameroon/The Rock). Bill Self's program edged out Florida and Texas for Embiid's commitment, which he announced Tuesday, less than 24 hours before the early signing period was to begin.
Embiid, a 6-foot-11 native of Cameroon, is not currently in the ESPN 100, but will make his debut in January when the rankings are re-evaluated after the summer he had. New to basketball, Embiid was learning the ropes before emerging late in the summer and then showing well in front of college coaches in the fall. It's reasonable to consider him a top-20-level recruit.Embiid's commitment moves Kansas' Class of 2013 to second behind Kentucky.
Following a visit to Kansas, Embiid knew the Jayhawks would be difficult to beat.
"When I was visiting schools I wanted to go and see what they got," Embiid said. "After my visit I knew that Kansas was good. Luc talked to some people in the NBA and they said that the player development was good at Kansas."
The "Luc" Embiid referred to is Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Also a native of Cameroon, Mbah a Moute served as a mentor to Embiid once the center graduated from the "Basketball Without Borders" program.
Embiid did a lot of homework. As a developing big man, he switched high schools this year -- from Montverde (Fla.) Academy to The Rock School (Gainesville, Fla.) -- in search of more playing time, and his college approach was measured. In the end, it came down to player development.
"For me, it was the first thing," Embiid said. "It's not about playing time. I'll get playing time if I'm ready. The first thing was the development. After looking and seeing what they've done I think Kansas is the best fit for me."
Justin Harden, Embiid's coach at The Rock, sees a hungry, intelligent diamond in the rough.
"It's his ability to learn and pick up stuff," Harden said. "Sometimes when kids are new to the game ... he's picked up the game faster than some of the guys I've had. His combination of size, athletic ability and coordination is something."
Embiid's more prospect than player at this stage. His senior season is big on a number of fronts. For starters, he's got to continue his development, which has been steady since the spring. He'll also need to establish himself in terms of consistency and production. This will be his first full season of organized basketball in which he's counted on to produce. The young center sees the big picture. He's hungry and patient.
"I would say I look forward to playing games against big guys my size," Embiid said. "I want to learn and make it to league."