Luc Mbah a Moute has played a big factor in the life of Joel Embiid, and his mentorship of the young center has been no secret. But a new detail in a story from ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan revealed that Mbah a Moute may have been responsible for Embiid being available to the Sixers in the first place.
As MacMullan is telling the tale we’ve heard before about Embiid’s path to the pros, she dropped this tidbit in (bold emphasis mine):
The 19-year-old Embiid is shaken. Following the scrimmage, he retreats to coach Bill Self's office.
"I don't belong here," Embiid tells him. "Are you kidding?" Self replies. "You will be the No. 1 pick in the NBA in two years."
"I wanted to believe him," Embiid says now, "but I had been told all the coaches lie."
Self is off by a year-and a couple of picks. Embiid averages 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in his only collegiate season and, on Mbah a Moute's recommendation, enters the NBA draft, where he is selected third overall by the 76ers.
Lots of talented players end up staying another year in college, thinking another year of development will aid their professional careers. A young, impressionable player like Embiid, who was adjusting to living in a foreign country at the time, could have easily been swayed to stay at the the University of Kansas.
But thanks to the tantalizing prospect of a few million dollars—and the guidance of Mbah a Moute—he ended up making the jump, and the 76ers have a generational prospect as a result. Thanks, Luc!