Joel Embiid has been one of the best basketball players on the planet for quite some time now. Recently, the LegionHoops account on Twitter, and other social media accounts, pulled a quote from Embiid’s 2018 entry from the Players’ Tribune about his journey, in which he told a hilarious story about how a teammate at Kansas dunked on him. A quick Google search will remind you that the 2013-2014 Jayhawks also featured Andrew Wiggins, as the two freshmen would go on to be the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks in the 2014 NBA Draft. However, researching that team will also remind you of how much talent was wasted that season.
Facts and stats are nostalgia’s greatest enemy.
“My very first scrimmage at Kansas, I got dunked on so hard by Tarik Black that I almost quit,” Embiid wrote. “Tarik dunked on me so hard that I was looking at plane tickets home. This guy was a senior. He was a grown man. I didn’t know what was going on. He got his own rebound and dunked over me so hard that everything went in slow motion.
“He dunked the ball off my head, for real. But I didn’t even tell you the worst part. The worst part was that the entire Kansas women’s hoops team was sitting in the bleachers watching the scrimmage. The whole gym was laughing at me. It was crazy. Seriously, it was like a WORLDSTAR situation.
“So I went straight to Bill Self’s office afterward and I said, “I can’t do this. You have to redshirt me. I can’t play with these guys.”
That Kansas team was loaded, as six players would go on to make the NBA. Outside of Embiid — who stays in MVP contention — and Wiggins — who was a starter in the NBA All-Star Game last season — the roster also included a seldom-used freshman named Frank Mason III. He’d go on to be the national player of the year by his senior season. The Jayhawks started 5-0 that season and even knocked off Duke and Jabari Parker early on in a game that featured the three freshmen who would compose the first three picks in the upcoming draft.
But then, things got weird.
Kansas lost three (Villanoca, Colorado, and Florida) of their next four games. And the team that looked like a squad destined for a Final Four against Duke in the Champions Classic at the United Center was never able to live up to the expectations.
Bill Self’s team would go on to win the Big 12 regular season title — which it seems like they do every year — but lost in the semifinals of their conference tournament and were upset in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament by Stanford. The second-seeded Jayhawks lost to the tenth-seeded Cardinal who entered that game with 12 losses. Kansas finished the year with a 25-10 record, which was the first time Self had lost double-digit games in a season during his tenure in Lawrence — until it happened again in 2018-2019.
Due to injury, Embiid only played in 28 games that season — which means he didn’t suit up against Stanford in the season finale. Black — the teammate who dunked on Embiid — led the Jayhawks in scoring that game with 18 points. Wiggins, the eventual No. 1 pick, led the Jayhawks in minutes played (34) but only scored four points, as he only took six shots in his last collegiate game.
THE NUMBER ONE PICK IN THE UPCOMING NBA DRAFT THAT SEASON ONLY TOOK SIX MEASLY SHOTS IN THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE YEAR!
It’s a stat that every true basketball fan should have tattooed into their brains.
As we enter the month where college basketball reigns supreme and the NCAA Tournament will rule the sports world, let the 2013-2014 Kansas Jayhawks be a warning to you as you fill out your brackets.
March is a wild place where unthinkable things happen, and college basketball is always drunk. Future NBA All-Pros can get dunked on in practice by players you’ve probably never heard of before, and No. 1 picks can play unenthused basketball games in which they only shoot six times when 36 field goal attempts would have been deemed acceptable.
Buckle up, madness is getting ready to ensue. And, ironically enough, the Jayhawks are ranked third in the country, have been the best of the blue bloods all season, and are defending national champions looking to repeat.
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