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He reacts as if he hasn’t heard the query earlier than, as if the subject is one thing Justin Edwards has by no means even actually thought of. What, an interviewer wonders, are the strongest elements of your recreation proper now?
“Um…I don’t know,” he says after a pause. “That’s a good question.”
He does have a solution finally: “I would say getting to my spots, rebounding, getting to the rim, hitting open shots,” he says, however it’s in all probability a testomony to only what number of issues Edwards does effectively that he struggles a bit to slim it down. Developmentally talking, no highschool senior has a very full recreation, however Edwards’ recreation is nearer than most.
A 6-8, 190-pound small ahead from Imhotep Institute, the Philadelphia Public League energy, Edwards entered his senior 12 months as a consensus top-five prospect within the class of 2023. The exterior scouting stories usually agree together with his self-assessment: At his greatest, Edwards is a disruptive defender, an environment friendly rebounder and a flexible scorer who can beat you with mid-range jumpers as comfortably as he can beat you off the dribble. “I don’t really do stuff outside my box,” he says. “I do the simple stuff.”
Suffice to say, the stuff Edwards makes look easy doesn’t come so simply to most. His manufacturing at each Imhotep and with the Nike EYBL Team Final squad has him ranked among the many high handful of gamers within the nation and likewise makes him one of many jewels of what appears just like the nation’s greatest recruiting class in Kentucky. Even by John Calipari’s lofty requirements, a 2023 class that features Edwards and fellow top-10 prospects DJ Wagner—son of Coach Cal’s one-time Memphis star Dajuan Wagner—Aaron Bradshaw and Robert Dillingham (to not point out top-50 recruit and UK legacy Reed Sheppard) ranks amongst Cal’s most spectacular incoming freshman courses.
“Coach Cal’s always had young players who’ve been successful,” Edwards says of his school selection, which finally got here all the way down to UK and Tennessee. “The long-term goal is being in the NBA, and he helps players get where they want to be.”
It’s not laborious to see why these guys would need to play for Calipari in Lexington, however in that, this group is considerably distinctive: Wagner and Bradshaw are teammates at Camden (NJ) High School, situated simply over the river from Philadelphia. It’s a relative rarity that a lot regionally concentrated expertise is headed to the identical elite, out-of-state DI program, however to the extent that Edwards and his soon-to-be Wildcat teammates are used to competing with one another for nationwide honors—to not point out in a much-hyped matchup between Imhotep and Camden scheduled for January—he insists it’s a wholesome rivalry.
“Rankings is rankings, and we don’t pay it no mind at all,” Edwards says. “I talk to DJ and them all the time. When we see each other, we all laugh and have a good time. If we’re playing against each other, we know how to handle it.”
Edwards has a lot to distract himself till then. Imhotep faces a loaded schedule this winter, together with video games on the City of Palms Classic and Hoophall Classic, as they appear to match final 12 months’s 28-4 report and state title. “I’m just focused on winning everything like we did last year and finishing top-five in the country,” Edwards says.
Once his senior season is over, he’ll give attention to the features of his recreation that also want work. Asked what he’s most centered on enhancing, the lefty talks about getting higher driving to his proper and getting extra constant together with his shot; he additionally is aware of it wouldn’t harm to get a bit of stronger and add 5-10 kilos to his body earlier than he begins at UK. He solutions that query about his relative weaknesses rather more shortly than the one about his strengths. It helps that it’s a a lot shorter listing.
Portraits by Marcus Stevens.
Source web site: www.slamonline.com