Joel Embiid visits back specialist

Updated: March 10, 2014, 12:19 PM ET
By Jeff Goodman | ESPN.com

Despite Joel Embiid's trip Monday to Los Angeles to see a back specialist, Kansas coach Bill Self is "100 percent confident" the freshman center will play in the postseason.

[+] EnlargeJoel Embiid
Wichita Eagle/MCT/Getty ImagesJoel Embiid is seeing a back specialist for a second opinion, but Kansas coach Bill Self is confident Embiid will play in the postseason.

"This was the plan all along," Self said by phone Monday, referring to the second opinion the player was getting. "We don't anticipate anything new, but we owe it to Joel and his family to know exactly what we're dealing with."

Self said he's hoping to have the results back from the doctor in California at some point Monday.

"I'm optimistic he'll play soon," Self said. "He'll be back. I'm 100 percent optimistic he'll be back. We just don't know yet whether it will be this week or next week. We're not going to put him out there until the doctors say he's ready."

The 7-foot Embiid, who is a front-runner to be the No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft if he decides to leave school, sat out the Jayhawks' final two regular-season games with a lower-back injury.

He initially injured his back in the second half of a home win against West Virginia and sat out a Feb. 15 victory over TCU. He played the next three games before reinjuring his back in a March 1 loss at Oklahoma State.

Embiid is averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.

"He's still a little tight but much better than he was. He's been running in the pool, but certainly not to a point where he's gotten knocked around," Self said later in a conference call with reporters.

Kansas will play the winner of the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech matchup on Thursday in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals in Kansas City, Mo.

"I've tried to get medical expert opinions," Self said. "If I play him on Thursday, can I play him on Friday? Or what if we cut his minutes back? But the big thing is having him for the following week [for the NCAA tournament], and I don't anticipate that being a problem."

ESPN.com college basketball reporter Dana O'Neil contributed to this report.

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