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Syracuse men’s basketball preseason player profiles: Jesse Edwards

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Jesse Edwards looks to provide an offensive boost at center for the Orange

NCAA Basketball: ACC Media Day
Jim Boeheim spoke positively of Edwards at ACC Media Day
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Center

Class: Freshman

Vitals: 6-foot-11, 215 lbs

Stats: No stats are available for Jesse Edwards prior to him joining the Syracuse Orange, but he averaged 5.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and shot 8-19 from the field on the four-game Italian tour in August. He also blocked five shots over three games (stats aren’t available for the fourth).

Background: Growing up in the Netherlands, Edwards played soccer and competed in high jump. He didn’t start playing basketball until age 13. Edwards later attended BC Apollo Amsterdam from 2017-18, where he played for their pro team in the Dutch Basketball League. Edwards arrived in the U.S. in December 2018, where he enrolled and played at IMG Academy in Florida for the rest of the school year. He committed to Syracuse last spring over Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Creighton, Providence, and Stanford, among others.

How he fits: With Paschal Chukwu lost to graduation and Jim Boeheim saying Marek Dolezaj will only play forward this season, Syracuse will look to Bourama Sidibe, Edwards, and John Bol Ajak to anchor the middle of the 2-3 zone and collect rebounds on each end of the court. But unlike Chukwu, all three centers possess offensive skills beyond just catching lob passes or converting on putbacks, which should improve the Orange’s spacing and overall offensive efficiency in 2019-20.

”They want me to fill the role of a more offensive big man,’’ Edwards told Syracuse.com about his expected contribution to the team. And according to IMG Academy’s director of basketball, Brian Nash, Edwards does have a diverse offensive game of facing up, putting the ball on the floor, spin moves, and three-point range. The more of that Edwards can do on offense, even off the bench, the more he’ll open up the floor for his teammates to score.

Ceiling: Edwards is polished offensively with an all-around game, and provides important floor spacing for SU, especially if Sidibe is not fully back from knee tendinitis and resulting surgery during his freshman year (although reports indicate he is fully healthy). On defense, Edwards’ height, length, and shot-blocking ability that he showcased in Italy will make up for his lack of zone experience.

Floor: Sidibe stays healthy throughout the season, and Edwards, not as developed offensively as hoped, still plays important minutes as the backup center. He’ll gets some run in the early part of the schedule, and then provides valuable depth at the position as a serviceable option off of the bench.

Other Areas of Interest: Edwards’ older brother, Kai Edwards, is a senior forward for the Northern Colorado Bears.