WICHITA, Kansas — Kansas coach Bill Self was prophetic with the way he spoke about his former center Joel Embiid the night he was drafted third overall by the 76ers in 2014.
On draft night, among other things, Self compared Embiid to Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon.
After missing his first two seasons due to foot injuries and being limited to just 31 games last year, Embiid was an all-star starter this season.
Speaking at a brief press gathering late Tuesday night after his team arrived in Wichita to prepare to play Penn on Thursday, Self said only one thing has surprised him about Embiid since he left Kansas after his one season.
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“I am surprised he is as active as he is on social media,” Self said.
“I really am because he didn’t really do that here.”
In talking about Embiid’s production on the court, Self said it has gone just as he expected. In 28 games in the 2013-14 season, Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game.
“As far as talent, I am not surprised at all,” Self said. “As good as he is, he is just scratching the surface and is going to get better.”
Embiid will turn 24 on Friday.
“I would be shocked if he is not looked at as the game’s best big man in the next year or two,” Self said.
He says Embiid has literally grown since leaving Kansas.
“The other thing about Joe that is a little different than when we had him is he has grown,” Self said. “He was 7-foot with us and I think he is at least 7-2 now. It just is amazing how he moves and thinks and how skilled he is, being that big.”
The Kansas coach said he couldn’t be happier for Embiid’s success.
“We love Joe and he has been a great ambassador for us,” Self said.