Sixers' Joel Embiid says he'll 'probably' return first game after all-star break

NEW ORLEANS - The 76ers haven't had Joel Embiid in the lineup for 11 straight games. When does the rookie center expect to play again?

"I'm hopeful to come back after all-star [break]," the rookie center said during the Rising Stars Game media availability Friday at the Super Dome, site the NBA's all-star game.

The first game?

"Yeah. Probably," Embiid said before a slight pause, "if the practices before that go well, and I don't get any knee swelling or soreness, definitely."

Embiid missed 14 of the last 15 games after suffering a bone bruise in his left knee on Jan. 20 against the Portland Trail Blazers. An MRI also revealed that he has a slightly torn meniscus.

Embiid said his knee swelled on-and-off after workouts. 

The Sixers' first game after the break will be Feb. 24 against the Washington Wizards at home. They are scheduled to have their next practice on Wednesday.

Derrick Jones Jr. representing Carroll

Saturday night, some people may see Derrick Jones Jr. as just an unheralded Phoenix Sun rookie competing in the slam dunk contest.

But in the Philly area, the small forward from Chester is known as the pride of Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor.

"I always think how my path was," he said. "I had a little rough patch when I was at UNLV, but I love my life now. Being at Carroll, it opened my eyes a lot. I got to learn a lot from my coach Paul Romanczuk. I still keep tabs and I always talk to him a lot.

"I love the whole path that I had to take because it made me grow up a lot."

The 2015 Carroll graduate had his ACT scores investigated prior to freshman season at UNLV because he tested at a particular site in Maryland. The NCAA cleared him to play in November 2015. However, on Feb. 29, 2016, the NCAA notified UNLV that Jones' ACT score had been canceled. As a result, he was ruled ineligible and forced to sit out the remaining three regular-season games.

After going undrafted last summer, he signed with the Suns on Sept. 25. He spent most of his time on Phoenix's NBA Development League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns. Jones, however, still received an invitation to participate in the dunk contest.

"I'm just living a dream," he said. "When they called me and say they wanted me to be in the dunk contest, I honestly thought I was dreaming."

Follow and contact 76ers beat writer Keith Pompey on Twitter and on Instagram at PompeyOnSixers.