College Hoops

Zach Edey is confident he can be impactful at NBA level: ‘It’s just basketball’

Zach Edey is confident he can be impactful at NBA level: 'It's just basketball'

For all he accomplished the past four years at Purdue, Zach Edey realizes there are some huge questions surrounding his game โ€” almost as big as his 7-foot-4 frame.

Though he was the national Player of the Year the past two seasons and led the Boilermakers to the championship game this year, he is viewed as a slow-footed defender who can’t stretch the floor on offense, either.

Those are two big marks against him as he prepares to enter the NBA. He also wants to make it clear there’s more to his game than meets the eye โ€” or what’s on video.

“I’m the college player of the year, but I’m going to the NBA,” Edey said this week at the NBA Draft combine. “You’ve got to leave all that behind. I’ve got to re-establish myself.”

Edey is a bit of a throwback with his back-to-the-basket game. But he’s entering a league fixated on 3-point shooting and perimeter play, where big men need to be quick on their feet and able to shoot and defend away from the basket.

Edey is also a relative newcomer to basketball, even though he played four years in college. His focus growing up in Toronto was on hockey and baseball until his strike zone grew too large. He eventually wound up in Florida at IMG Academy, where he played one season on the school’s top basketball team.

“I’m never going to be the wiry 7-foot guy like Kevin Durant,” he said. “I’m a 7-foot-4, 300-pound guy. I’m built to be in the paint, to carve up space, to protect my area. That’s what I’m going to keep doing.”

Edey’s task at Purdue was to post up, work the pick and roll and defend down low. He insisted there’s still room in the NBA for players who do those things.

Edey was also adamant there’s more to his game than what he showed in college. He insisted he can score from the perimeter, though he made only one 3-pointer and attempted two at Purdue. He got a chance to show more of his skills during drills on Monday.

Edey shot 60% off the dribble, albeit with no one guarding him, ran a three-quarters-of-the-court sprint in 3.42 seconds, and had a 31 1/2-inch vertical leap. Not bad for a player who measured 7-3 3/4 with no shoes and weighed 299 pounds.

“I think I need to show people I can shoot the way I believe I can,” Edey said. “But I think, for the most part, teams kind of know what I’m good at. Teams have tons of film on me. Obviously, I think I’m quicker than teams think I am. I think I can shoot better than teams think I can. I have to show that. I’ve been in college four years. They’ve got a lot of film on…

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