Not even the player who holds the reigning consensus for National Player of the Year in college basketball is heading for the 2023 NBA Draft to be held in June, as Zach Edey decided to back down and return for a fourth season defending the Purdue jersey.
Ranked No. 72 by CBS Sports NBA Draft Prospect Rankings, the young star has always faced uncertainty regarding his professional future, considering his role as a traditional center in a modern sport that seeks versatility in rising talents.
The seven-foot-four athlete, who was born in Canada, seems to have made the best financial decision, as he’s working on a new student visa that should allow him to profit off his image at a college level. Edey has become one of the most recognizable profiles in basketball as he comes from averaging 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last campaign for the Boilermakers.
Another reason he might consider to return to Purdue is that all the expectation surounding the team this past season ended in frustration, after suffering a surprising loss to the 16-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Just a month ago, the player announced his decision to test the draft waters and receive feedback from NBA trainers.
“My basketball journey has been unorthodox to say the least, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it,” Edey posted on social media back in April. “From ranked No. 437 in my class to National Player of the Year, I can’t put into words what Purdue University, my teammates, my coaches and our fans mean to me.
“Though we fell short of our ultimate goal this season, I loved every second of it. With that being said, I’m putting my name in the NBA Draft while maintaining my college eligibility. I will evaluate my future after going through the process and look forward to what’s next.”
Besides recovering Edey for next season, many other key players from the 2022/23 roster are making their way back to Indiana, the same who conquered the Big Ten regular season and other tournament trophies.
Edey is a victim of the modern game, as the traditional big men are slowly becoming extinct
You just have to turn on the television and watch Nuggets star Nikola Jokic revolutionize the center position by his dominance in all sides of the floor. Also, NBA clubs have made it a priority to acquire players who are exceptional while shooting beyond the arc, or complement their offensive qualities with stealthy defense.
“He’s a level-headed guy,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said about his star player. “He’ll take the information in and make a decision and do what’s best for him. So he’s not somebody that — he’s pretty simple in things. But it’s not me. His parents are great. The people around him are great. He’s a good dude. It’s too bad. He deserves better than this.”
ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst discussed some time ago how his lack of mobility is concerning to NBA scouts, and this might just be the reason he doesn’t feel ready to make the big leap.
“It’s off-putting to NBA teams—even though Zach Edey has gotten better—it’s off-putting when a big man just can’t move very well, unless he’s so sensational,” the broadcaster said back in March.
Source: Basketball Insider