LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self is facing a balancing act between making sure star freshman Joel Embiid recovers from back and knee injuries yet doesn't miss too much time on the court.
The 7-footer sprained his knee against TCU on Jan. 25 and has been dealing with back pain for a while. While he hasn't missed any games, his playing time has decreased. He played only 18 minutes in an overtime loss to Kansas State on Monday night.
The seventh-ranked Jayhawks play the Horned Frogs again on Saturday.
"Of course you think long-term, but you also know that he'll have a better chance to perform in games in the future the less time he's off now," Self said Thursday. "We're not going to do anything to jeopardize him at all, but based on the doctors and the trainers, they'll make the call along with Joel on him being honest with us and how he's feeling."
Self said MRI exams came back negative, and Embiid is feeling better after missing practice all week. But he'd need to work out Friday in order to play Saturday.
"A lot of times there's no reason to hold guys out if they're healthy, too. We'll make that determination in the next few days," Self said.
Embiid has gained attention this season while averaging nearly 11 points and eight rebounds for the Jayhawks. Those numbers may appear modest, but they have NBA scouts salivating because Embiid, a native of Cameroon, has only been playing for a few years.