KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Injured Kansas center Joel Embiid remains unlikely to return before the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, even though he participated in a light shoot-around Wednesday.
Jayhawks coach Bill Self said the 7-footer's status hasn't changed since Monday, when Embiid received a second opinion on his back from a specialist in Los Angeles. The doctor confirmed the initial diagnosis of a stress fracture and prescribed rest and rehabilitation.
"He's not playing this week, at all," Self said in the hallway outside the Kansas locker room at the Sprint Center. "The thing about it is we'll play him whenever the doctors and Joel's body say he's ready to play, and I'm still confident — and others are — that it's going to happen.
"But to be real candid," Self said, "we may have to advance for it to happen."
Self was referring to the NCAA tournament, of course. He also refuted reports that he was "100 percent" confident his freshman shot-blocker would play again this postseason.
No. 10 Kansas has the top seed and a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament. The defending champion will face the winner of Oklahoma State-Texas Tech in Thursday's quarterfinals.
Embiid's injury has become a major story in Kansas City this week. Talk radio shows have dissected it for days, trotting out back experts and others to give their opinions on whether the freshman — projected by some to be the No. 1 pick in the draft — will return at all this season.
The injury has even gotten the attention of the NCAA tournament selection committee, which has asked Kansas to keep abreast of developments in the injury this week.
It's not the first time the committee has weighed injuries to star players when it comes time to seed the tournament. Perhaps the most famous case occurred in 2000, when Cincinnati was dropped to the second line after Kenyon Martin broke his leg in the Conference USA tournament.