Joel Embiid was a truly incredible college player. Entering his freshman season, all the attention at Kansas was on future No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins. However, Embiid quickly stole the spotlight and shot up draft boards before a back injury cut his college career short. Embiid and Wiggins both declared for the draft and were taken in the top 5.
The decision to enter the NBA seemed obvious. Embiid eventually went third to the Philadelphia 76ers, but a serious case could have been made to take him No. 1. There was no reason to stay for another year, but according to Embiid his initial decision was to stay at Kansas before a mystery person convinced him to leave.
“It’s funny. I don’t think anybody knows this story, but I actually decided to stay because I loved this place so much. But I was kind of pushed away.”
Imagine if Embiid had chosen to play another year of college ball over entering the NBA. He missed the first two years of his NBA career due to various injuries. Would he have been able to stay healthy at Kansas and still go top 5 in the draft? It’s impossible to know for sure, but he definitely made the right call for his pro career by leaving Kansas when he did.
Embiid’s 31 NBA games last year impressed everybody so much that he’s already considered a future face of the league. If he can stay healthy then there’s nothing that can get in his way to being a star.