The NCAA tournament selection committee will be in contact with Kansas throughout the week regarding the injury status of freshman center Joel Embiid, committee chair Ron Wellman said on ESPNU's Katz Korner on Tuesday.
Kansas announced Monday that Embiid has a stress fracture in his back, will miss the Big 12 tournament this week in Kansas City, Mo., and is questionable for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Embiid went to Los Angeles over the weekend to see a spine specialist.
The Jayhawks are the top seed in the Big 12 tournament and will play the winner of No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Texas Tech in a Thursday quarterfinal matchup.
"I can assure you it will be a detailed discussion as to when he is going to be available, and we will be monitoring and communicating with Kansas throughout the week as to what his availability will be going forward," Wellman said.
There is precedent for this, with Arizona dealing with a back injury to Loren Woods in 2000 and Connecticut in 2004 with Emeka Okafor. The Wildcats' seed wasn't affected, though Woods didn't play in the NCAA tournament that year. UConn's seed was dropped a line, but Okafor played and the Huskies won the title.
Wellman discussed how the committee will handle judging Kansas, which played three games without Embiid, going 2-1 with wins over TCU and Texas Tech at home and losing at West Virginia. The latter two games were last week, and the TCU game was earlier in the conference season.
"Do you reward teams for what they have done in the season, or do you project what they are going to do?" Wellman said. "If you are projecting what they are going to do, then that injury of course takes on more importance. If you are rewarding them for what they have done in the season, then you just base your decisions, whether it be selection or seeding, upon what they have shown thus far in the season and their accomplishments this season. I think that is a discussion that we will have in the committee room."
Wellman is one of 10 members of the committee, and they all have an equal vote on each team. Where does Wellman stand on whether to reward Kansas or penalize the Jayhawks for not having Embiid?
"I am probably one personally that sides on the award side," Wellman said. "Is it good or is it appropriate to punish a team and the other 11 players on that team because someone is injured? I don't think you completely eliminate the facts that you have in front of you regarding an injury, but I tend to side personally, and I'm not speaking for the committee on this, but personally I would probably side on the award side of it."