Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Kansas head men's basketball coach Bill Self told reporters Monday that he is optimistic about injured center Joel Embiid being able to play in the upcoming postseason.
Self acknowledged reports that Embiid saw a specialist in Los Angeles Monday in regards to his ailing back, with the exam used to determine the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year's possible availability for this week's conference tournament.
According to Self, Embiid remains uncertain for the Big 12 Tournament but is expected to be ready when Kansas begins play in the NCAA Tournament. The top- seeded Jayhawks will next take the court Thursday in a Big 12 quarterfinal.
"This week is important, but it pales in comparison to the importance of what happens after this week," Self said. "I want him as healthy as possible for the NCAA Tournament."
Embiid, whose 2.57 blocks per game ranked second in the Big 12 this season, missed a Feb. 15 contest against TCU with a lower back strain and aggravated the injury later on, prompting the Jayhawks to hold out the freshman standout for the final two regular-season games.
With Embiid out of the lineup, Kansas allowed a season high in points and was outrebounded by a 37-31 margin in Saturday's 92-86 loss at West Virginia.
"He's still a little tight," Self said. "He's tons better than he was. He's actually run in the pool and done some things, but certainly not to the point where he's got knocked around."
Embiid also leads Kansas in rebounding (8.1 ppg) and averaged 11.2 points on a 62.6 percent field goal percentage in 28 games this season.