Joel Embiid, a slender, skilled, still-developing big man from Cameroon, who has only been playing basketball for a year and a half, and Brannen Greene, a smooth-shooting two-guard/small forward from Georgia, on Thursday signed letters-of-intent with Kansas University.
KU coach Bill Self gushed about the two upon receipt of their letters Thursday afternoon.
Of Embiid, a 7-foot, 220-pound senior from The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., Self said: “He will develop and be one of the very best tall guys in college basketball in just a year or two.
“He, in my opinion, has a chance to be as good as any big guy we’ve recruited. He’s long, has touch. He is literally just getting started. His potential is untapped. I think he’s just now starting to figure it out and get confidence. The way we play, we can move him around and he made me a much better coach when he put his name on the dotted line.”
In his first weekend tournament at The Rock School, Embiid scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds in one game and had 12 points and 20 rebounds in another.
Embiid, 18, began playing at one of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s basketball camps in Cameroon when he was 16. Mbah a Moute, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, encouraged him to attend his alma mater, Montverde Academy (Fla.). Embiid transferred to The Rock School to play for coach Justin Harden for his senior season.
“He is long but what I like most about him is that he is tough,” Self said of Embiid. “I think he will adjust well to the physical play of the college game, especially when he gets into the weight room. His personality is contagious and he’s fun to be around. He is articulate and speaks three languages.”
Embiid is currently unranked, analysts indicating he’ll likely wind up a top 20-30 prospect in the final ratings. The Florida Elite AAU player chose KU over Florida and Texas. He also visited Marquette and Virginia.
“We’ve had success with big guys,” Self said. “Of the 26 NBA players we’ve coached, I think 15 are between 6-8 and 6-10. Joel (he’s listed as 7-foot by Rivals.com and 6-11 by ESPN) fits what we do and how we play. He has so much to learn and he’s just now getting it. He’s a different player today than he was in the summer and I guarantee he will be a different player in February than he is now. I just think he’s going to continue to get better and better at an accelerated rate.”
Greene, a 6-7, 200-pound senior from Tift County High School in Tifton, Ga., is ranked No. 25 nationally by Rivals.com
“Brannen is one of the most skilled 6-foot-7 guys in the country,” Self said. “He can shoot it. He can put it down. He’s got good vision. He’s a guy that should have a smooth transition from high school to college, in large part because he is a big guard. He’s not a guy that has been playing inside a lot.”
Last season Greene averaged 25.4 points and 14 rebounds for Mary Persons High School in Forsyth, Ga., where he was named the Macon Telegraph’s All Middle Georgia Player of the Year. Additionally, Greene carries a 4.0 grade point average in the classroom.
Greene, who verbally committed to KU in December 2011, chose KU over Louisville, Connecticut, Florida and Ohio State.
“He committed a long time ago to us and held true to his word,” Self said. “He’s been well coached by his father (Jeffrey) throughout his life and is an outstanding student. His dad was a great player at Pittsburg State and is one of the school’s all-time leading scorers.”
In August, Greene participated in the Under Armor Elite 24 all-star event in Venice Beach, Calif., which considers the best 24 high school players in the country. He was joined by KU signee Conner Frankamp at the all-star event.
“They (the Greene’s) have a beautiful family and he’s playing at a basketball program that is one of the premier programs in Georgia.” Self said. “We truly believe that Brannen’s best basketball is ahead of him.”
KU on Wednesday announced the signing of Frankamp, 6-0 from Wichita North. The Jayhawks today are expected to announce the signing of Frank Mason, 5-11, 160, Massanutten Military Academy, Petersburg, Va.; and Wayne Selden, 6-5, 225, Tilton (N.H.) School.
Tyler Roberson, a 6-8 forward from Roselle (N.J.) Catholic will announce for either KU, Villanova or Syracuse on ESPN’s signing day special, to start at 6 p.m., today. CBS recruiting analyst Jeff Borzello predicts the choice will be Villanova.