Joel Embiid's arrival to the University of Kansas was decidedly more anonymous than that of his teammate, Andrew Wiggins. The duo took wildly different paths to Lawrence. One was a late-blooming post threat starting a new life in America, the other a high-flying swingman whose high school hoopla had publications invoking LeBron James' name.
Yet as their freshman seasons wore on, it was Embiid who grabbed the spotlight with his deft footwork and stunning grace. The secret was out -- his skills caught up to his over-sized frame. Injury concerns late in the pre-draft process were the only reason the Sixers had the chance to scoop him up at No. 3, with most draft experts proclaiming he was the top overall prospect in a heralded class.
You'll have to wait for him to suit up in a Sixers uniform, but there's footage to tide you over for the time being.
In the meantime, there's the matter of what we know about him off the court. Though there are plenty of highlight videos from which we can discern his game, the profile pieces on Embiid are few and far between, and a man's personality is more difficult to determine than his on-court prowess. To save you some time, here's what we know about him thus far.
He Has A Massive Sweet Tooth
Like Lamar Odom before him, Embiid has a fixation on the sugary stuff.
In a recent profile piece for The Wichita Eagle, Rustin Dodd relayed a story on Embiid's obsessive consumption of an All-American beverage -- pink lemonade.
Of all the American ideals to fall in love with, Embiid fell hardest for pink lemonade - the bottled kind. In the moments after games, he would head to the refrigerator at the back of the media room and shovel bottles into his arms, like a child with a night full of Halloween loot. He drank it by the gallon, and the KU coaches and staffers always scolded him about his sugar intake.
By. The. Gallon. Embiid doesn't just leisurely sip lemonade while laying in a hammock on a warm summer day, he dives face first into Gatorade coolers filled with the stuff.
The sugar obsession doesn't stop there. Dodd claims that cookies and brownies are among his top culinary choices, and Bleacher Report's Jason King disputes the claim that pink lemonade is his favorite beverage. According to King, Embiid's favorite drink is a Shirley Temple. This is the only thing he and Jake Pavorsky have in common.
His Family Might Not Get The Fuss, Because They Barely Watch Him Play
The Shirley Temple claim might well have been a cover up while in the presence of authority -- his father. Embiid was the biggest man on campus in Lawrence, but his skills on the basketball court weren't of particular interest to his dad, a colonel in the military back home in Cameroon.
Consider this: despite allowing him to leave his home country at the age of 16, Embiid's father had never seen him play basketball before November of this past year. Kudos to Thomas Embiid for avoiding the trap of helicopter parenting, but wouldn't you want to do some background work before letting your child move to a foreign country?
Going further than that, the elder Embiid's aspirations for his son were on another court, per a profile done by Jordan Conn for Grantland:
His father, a military colonel, preferred that Joel stick to volleyball. Volleyball was casual and low-contact, something that would never threaten to interfere with his son's education.
Joel would have finished school, kept up volleyball, gone to a local university, and begun work toward a comfortable middle-class existence. No one would have questioned it.
I hope his military tactics are sharper than his talent scouting.
He Plays Basketball, But Soccer Is Still King
That disconnect from father to son may be a product of Cameroon's fixation on soccer. As detailed in Conn's profile, soccer is the preferred and perhaps only sport in the minds of Cameroonians, rendering even bright stars like Embiid to anonymity among his countrymen.
Consider the following -- in a nation of 23 million people, there are just two gyms in which to play basketball, and both are located in the same building in Yaounde, Embiid's hometown. This leads one to wonder whether Embiid is truly remarkable, or whether there are a bunch of athletic, seven-foot accountants walking around Cameroon, unaware of how exceptional their physical gifts are.
The attitude of his home country has not left Embiid. When questioned by Dan Patrick about whether he'd prefer to be a top soccer player or a top basketball player, Embiid selected soccer.
Had that come out before the draft, Embiid's fear of falling to the second round (captured earlier in the above clip) might have come true. The "does he love the game?" question is frequently used to tank player stock late in the draft process, and an outright admission of a preference for soccer is akin to blasphemy in many circles. I'm still not sure we're safe from #HotSportsTakes once the wrong people get their hands on this.
The good news is that Embiid goes on to explain that you have to "be a man" to play basketball, and "I don't think those soccer guys can." That should go over well in a town that values toughness to an extreme level -- we still idolize the Broad Street Bullies around these parts -- and quell any doubts over his passion for the sport. Besides, Michael Jordan
got banned for gambling walked away from the game to play baseball for a year, and he had an okay career.