Lawrence, MO, United States (4E Sports) – Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid announced Wednesday that he was leaving college ball to go to the NBA.
“After thinking a lot, I decided to declare for the NBA Draft,” said Embiid in a press conference, flanked by Kansas coach Bill Self.
He follows teammate Andrew Wiggins in declaring for the draft after one season of college basketball.
Analysts project him to be taken in the top five in June’s NBA draft.
Embid said the decision was made on Sunday after he talked to his parents, adviser Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and some current and past NBA players, including NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon.
“I was excited,” Embiid said of his conversation with Olajuwon earlier this week. “He was talking to me and I don’t even remember what he said. I was just like, ‘Yeah.’”
Olajuwon is often compared to and is Embiid’s idol.
A Cameroon native, Embiid had played organized basketball for three years and finished his prep career at The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., before signing with Kansas.
He became a major factor in Kansas run to a 10th straight Big 12 regular-season championship, but his season was cut short because of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. The rebound average and 72 total blocks set school records for freshmen.