March 27, 2014

Looks like Bill Self has plenty of #Jayhawks hoops rebuilding to do

Joel Embiid/New York Times photo
I am assuming, like just about every other college and pro hoops fan, that Andrew Wiggins of the Kansas Jayhawks will be a one-and-done player.

Meanwhile, unless he changes his mind before the cutoff period, center Joel Embiid, with his back stress fracture and all, has made it official that he's coming out.

Everybody has said that Embiid could go No. 1, but they said this before the phrase "back stress fracture" came out.

(Update, March 31: Wiggins is joining him.)

That said, pro teams will draft "tall" even if they know a player will miss most his rookie season. Right, Nerlens Noel? Or if they know you have legs of different length, enough different to cause other problems. Right, Greg Oden? Or, if they know that you've got two knees bad enough you're ice-bagging both. Right, Bill Walton?

On the other hand, Ben Medro at this medical website says his injury isn't that big of a deal, if he's careful:
Making the diagnosis in the early stage of spondylolysis is important because the injury is treated with time and rest allowing bones to heal. Patience is needed because it can take 12 weeks or more and there are complications to be had if the athlte rushes back to activity. If there are bilateral pars defects or fractures, there is a possibility that the vertebral column might slide forward potentially causing irritation and inflammation to the nerves leaving the spinal canal. This slippage is called spondylolisthesis (listhesis=dislocation). Should this occur,, CT or MRI imaging may be required for diagnosis and surgery needed to stabilize the lumbar vertebrae.
Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are common injuries that afflict young athletes. Population studies show that 3-4% of the general young adult population will have spondyloysis, but up to 15% of athletes will have damage that can be seen on plain x-ray. Of those athletes with spondylolysis, almost half will have spondylolisthesis. Athletes increase their risk of developing a stress fracture if they have poor technique, poor posture, lack core stability, strength and flexibility and are guilty of overtraining. While it is a medical mantra that most overuse injuries can be prevented, it’s tough understanding the mechanical stresses that are placed on the lumbar spine of a seven foot tall athlete. With time, Joel Embiid will likely heal nicely and by next fall will be playing in the pros instead if college.
So, there we go. So, if Wiggins also comes out, and Jabari Parker as well, it's probably a three-person race between them for the No. 1 pick. And, per Medro, it sounds like "rest" is the best prescription. Unfortunately, since Kansas is now out of March Madness, he doesn't have to worry about being tempted to not follow that prescription.

As for his potential? Maybe a few people would call him a junior Dwight Howard. Actually, I'd call him a junior Hakeem Olajuwon. I see a lot of the same type of athleticism.

And, the New York Times is certainly high on his NBA potential, too. though I can't believe it when it says Wiggins could fall as low as No. 7.

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