Joel Embiid: Big Man on Campus (New Yorker.com)
College basketball has felt more bedazzling than usual this season, more of a star’s game. The other night, I switched on the Kansas-Iowa State game just to catch a glimpse of the Jayhawks’ six-foot-eight forward Andrew Wiggins. He is lithe and cut, an explosive scorer who slashes and dishes and soars. (“He bounces off the floor,” Dick Vitale said, in November. “He’s like a Spalding ball—bounce, boom, up.”) His professional prospects were being dissected before he had even set foot on a college court. In October, aSports Illustrated cover story compared him to Wilt Chamberlain. The main question swirling around Wiggins concerns his status in the 2014 N.B.A. draft lottery: Will he go first or second?
Like Duke’s similarly hyped Jabari Parker (“the best high-school player since LeBron”) and Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Wiggins is only a freshman. All three arrived at college as prepackaged stars. Just two months into the season, it feels as though they’ve been around the game for much longer. But, like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, they are almost certainly “one-and-doners”—teen-aged dynamos who, ever since the N.B.A. instituted a minimum-age requirement, in 2005, hang around college for a single year before becoming eligible for the pros.
Wiggins was stellar, as expected, notching his second double-double of the season in the win over Iowa State. But everyone came away talking about another Kansas freshman, the center Joel Embiid…