The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season is fast approaching, and we’re continuing our player profiles for each scholarship player. We’ve done a couple of these already, and there’s no sense beating around the bush any longer. Let’s get to perhaps the most important player on this year’s team: Jesse Edwards.
With Marek Dolezaj gone and Bourama Sidibe still working his way back from injury, Edwards entered the 2021-22 season as the first choice center with not a great second option behind him. He immediately rose to the task and showcased the abilities he flashed at the end of the 2021 Sweet 16 run.
Edwards showed a greatly improved offensive game, quickly turning into one of the most reliable scoring options for the Orange. His lack of defensive support from his teammates overshadowed his improvement on that side of the court as well. A broken hand ended his season prematurely, and a healthy Edwards could’ve helped the Orange steal one or two more wins at the end of the year. He returns as the focal front of the interior attack for Syracuse.
Vitals: 6-foot-11, 230 lbs.
Stats (2021-22): 24 games and starts, 12.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 67 blocks, 69.5 FG%
Strengths/Weaknesses: A nearly 70% field goal percentage probably means you’re pretty good at scoring the ball. The increased strength and aggressiveness that we saw from Edwards meant that he was scoring almost at will. His pick-and-roll game with Joe Girard created some great opportunities. Defensively, Edwards could’ve made a run for the ACC leader in blocks if he didn’t get injured.
Edwards is a traditional big man, so he needs to actually get the ball inside the paint to score. That was an issue at times last year as there were times that the Orange forgot he was on the floor on offense, which is not his fault at all. It will be a weakness if Syracuse doesn’t feed Edwards the ball more. Also, given his position, Edwards is going to be dealing with fouls on both sides of the ball. He only went 59.8% from the line last season and fouled out in 11 games, including five straight at one point. Playing around foul trouble is going to be especially important this season.
Ceiling: Edwards continues to be a force in the paint on both sides of the ball, scoring as he pleases, cleaning up rebounds and denying easy layups. Syracuse doesn’t fall in love with the three ball and balances the offense with Edwards to get the most of his offensive capabilities. Edwards also limits the fouls to stay on the court.
Floor: Edwards doesn’t develop the same chemistry with Mintz and Torrence that he did with Girard, limiting the opportunities he has on offense. Foul trouble keeps him on the bench, forcing the Orange to change their playstyle drastically.