Joel Embiid has catapulted up the ranks in the college basketball recruiting world this year after committing to the Kansas Jayhawks over several other high major suitors. Embiid was considered a raw talent with high upside when Kansas started recruiting him and the track record with bigs under Bill Self was more than enough to sway Embiid to make his college living at Kansas. Since that time it has been a steady upward trajectory.
Embiid has gone from a virtual unknown when it comes to recruiting rankings, to a mid top 100 player that was considered a four star talent. A recent performance at the Jordan Brand Classic put the icing on the cake for a rise into the top 25 as a five star rated talent, and most recently Embiid is receiving high praise from his performance at the Nike Hoops Summit.
In fact Embiid is now being talked about as one of the highest potential players in a recruiting class that is loaded with talent. ESPN's Chad Ford released his list of top 10 draft prospects from the class of incoming freshman. The names at the top include Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Andrew Harrison and wait, is that Joel Embiid at no. 6? Indeed it is.
Embiid was labeled as on of the four most impressive players at the camp and Fran Franshilla called his potential "scary". First hand accounts point to a growing confidence and comfort on the court and a presence from a physical perspective. Chad Ford goes on to say that Embiid could be a potential top five pick in 2014 and he has the pieces to be a one and done. It's almost crazy how quickly this future Jayhawk has gone from a project to a potential NBA top five pick.
Of course that could well be a bad thing. Embiid is still very raw. Offensively he has a lot to learn and while his defensive game looks to have a tremendous amount of upside he will have to adjust to the speed at the college level. Embiid will also have plenty of work to do with Kansas strength coach Andrea Hudy. For all his natural gifts, there is no substitute for a year or two of hard work with Hudy when it comes to shaping an NBA ready body.
Embiid is walking into the perfect situation with Self and Hudy. The perfect situation where he can reach all of these lofty expectations with hard work. Embiid is going to be good at Kansas, but the hype surrounding him has gone from a whisper to a roar and as exciting as that is, this is still a player only three years into his basketball playing career. The upside potential is exactly the type of big man that can flourish under Self, hopefully this trajectory continues and Embiid can lead the Jayhawks to at least two more Big 12 titles before Self send yet another Kansas big man to the NBA.