BoilerUpload - NBA Draft Profile: Zach Edey drafted #9 to Memphis Grizzlies (2024)

Zach Edey goes top-10 in NBA Draft 2024

Zach Edey's NBA Draft didn't take long as the 7-4 Purdue star goes #9 to the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2024 NBA Draft.


Zach Edey Draft Profile

Zach Edey's transformation has taken one more giant leap as the 7-4 Toronto native has gone from a recruit ranked in the 400's out of high school to a surprise contributor as a freshman to the best player in college basketball in his final two seasons at Purdue after a four year career that ended in the NCAA Title game.

Now, he can add first round NBA Draft pick to his unlikely success story.

Edey came to Purdue as an unheralded 7+ footer and left as the back to back unanimous National Player of the Year. He took Purdue to its first Final Four under Matt Painter and was a part of all three teams that have had a #1 ranking in Purdue history.

But Edey exists as an old school throwback against the landscape of a modern NBA. He's a dominating on the block presence, towering over anyone he plays, with great hands and surprising footwork and quickness for someone so big.

He is one of NBA's toughest questions in the last few seasons. Where does college production end and the play style of the NBA start?

He almost left last season after dominating college basketball and sweeping his first of two unanimous National Player of the Year Awards but he was projected late first round to early second with no guarantee for a roster or playing spot. He also loved Purdue, and the community at Purdue loved Edey. When he made the decision to come back to Purdue for his senior season, he had no doubt he made the right decision as he reiterated throughout the season.

Edey made headlines throughout the season, sticking around after every home game to sign every single sign, take every picture, and greet a fan base that embraced the unexpecting star.

That love hasn't dissipated. Edey was invited to ESPN's Draft Day room but instead chose to stay in West Lafayette and watch the NBA draft with former players and coaches at Purdue.

Edey is one of the best rebounders in NCAA history, something that usually translates from college to the NBA, but he's an inside force that's never been asked or needed to spread the floor. Edey had an impressive showing at the NBA Combine, scoring well athletically and showing off good touch with his jump shot.

He's been adament throughout his two year NBA process, he was able to shoot. He showed it during the NBA Combine.

Is there more to Edey than just his inside game? That's a question for the Memphis Grizzlies now who look to return Ja Morant to the lineup and challenge for an NBA title next season.

Joining Jaren Jackson Jr. in the backcourt potentially puts two of the best Big Ten bigs of the decade together. Edey will provide the Grizzlies with toughness, physicality, and maybe most importantly, rebounding.

Edey will have a chance to compete for the starting center spot for the Grizzlies.

The College Years

Freshman year surprise

Zach Edey loomed large his freshman year at Purdue standing well over seven feet tall, but the kid with a long haircut and skinny frame seemed like a no doubt redshirt candidate. After all, as Purdue head coach Matt Painter loved to say during Edey's career, at that point Edey was just a couple years into his basketball career. He hadn't played any organized ball before high school and he came to Purdue lacking in a lot of base fundamentals of the sport.

But Edey's size, his tenacity, his athleticism, and his ability to work hard was apparent from day one. He was undeniable, even then, and he would go on to play in 28 games, including two starts that season despite all Big-Ten big Trevion Williams ahead of him.

Unpolished and raw, Edey was still incredibly productive his freshman year. He played just more than 14 minutes a game and scored 8.7 points a game and grabbed 4.4 rebounds a game while shooting 60% from the floor.

That Purdue team featured Purdue's last first round draft pick, Jaden Ivey, but despite the NBA talent, the team lost in the first round to double-digit seed North Texas.

Sophom*ore star burst

Zach Edey's minutes went up slightly in his sophom*ore season, from 14 minutes to 20 minutes , but Edey's impact on the court couldn't be denied. He took over the starting job from Trevion Williams, starting 33 of his 37 games.

Edey's production exploded. He averaged 14.4 points a game, and nearly doubled his rebounding to 7.7 per game. He did this while having his most efficient season, shooting nearly 65% from the floor.

Purdue didn't lose a non-conference game during the season and rose up to #1 in the AP Poll for the first time in program history. The team, led by Jaden Ivey, Edey, and Williams, made its way to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, losing to #15 seed St. Peter's. Ivey would then leave Purdue the following summer and be drafted in the top five by the Detroit Pistons.

Junior leap

Junior season is the story of Zach Edey you're probably familiar with it.

Gone were Trevion Williams and Jaden Ivey, in were a bunch of freshman, and then Zach Edey happened. The Zach Edey that just finished as dominant a two-year run as any player in college basketball history.

Edey's numbers were excellent: 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.1 blocks. Edey played an absurd 31.7 minutes per game, including a game where he played over 40 minutes in an overtime game. His conditioning, added mobility, and growing basketball skill was on display from the start of the season as Purdue once again went through its non-conference schedule without a loss.

Purdue put the college basketball landscape on notice at the Phil Knight Invitational where Purdue beat West Virginia, Gonzaga and Drew Timme, and Duke in consecutive games. Edey scored 20+ points in each game, outplaying Timme and Kyle Filipowski in back to back games. He became a favorite for National Player of the Year that week and for the rest of the season and next, made it clear night in and night out that he was the most dominating force in college basketball and its best player.

Edey would lead Purdue to the #1 ranking for the second straight season, a Big Ten title by three games, and a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He'd sweep the National Player of the Year awards.

But for the third straight year, Purdue would lose in the tournament to a double-digit seed, this time the #16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson.

Senior Year Redemption

25.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.2 blocks.

Edey spent the summer contemplating and testing for the NBA after his dominant junior season that saw him sweep the National Player of the Year Awards. Then, with a few hours to spare, word came to Purdue and then the world, Edey would return.

He dominated the Big Ten again. For the third straight year, Purdue wouldn't lose in the non-conference, Edey would dominate, and Purdue would win the Big Ten by three games.

Zach Edey would then lead Purdue to its first Final Four under Matt Painter, defeating NC State in the Final Four, and losing to the back to back champion UConn Huskies in the title game where he would go against lottery pick Donovan Clingan.

Edey's final college state line against the best defensive big in the NCAA according to most: 37 points and 10 rebounds.

Edey would leave Purdue as its all time leading scorer and rebounder and a part of its most winning class.

Strong accolades

Figuring out which part of Edey's game translates to the NBA will be one of the most fascinating mysteries for Edey's career. His college accolades aren't just dominant for the last couple years, but stand up against the Titans of college basketball lore.

Edey leaves Purdue as the 3rd highest scorer in Big Ten history with the 2nd most rebounds in conference history. He's the most efficient scorer in Big Ten history and has the second highest career shooting percentage in NCAA history. He has the highest player efficiency rating in NCAA history according to sports-reference.

He's the fourth best offensive rebounder in NCAA history, and leads the NCAA in wins shares per 40 minutes for his career.

Edey leaves college basketball as a generational force, a dominant inside presence on both sides of the floor that made 70% of his free throws.

Defensive unknowns

While Edey's dominance is without question, there are lingering concerns about his fit in the NBA.

Can Zach Edey defend in the NBA where guards are stronger, faster, and bigger? Edey did well left on an island this season. He moves well for his size, including an ability to get to his second jump when he needs to before most big men. He sizes up guards well on the perimeter and has a good sense of his wingspan which allows him to contest jump shots.

But he's not going to stick with guards and he can get lost at the rim trying to blocks shots at times, but he's gotten better each season. He's a dominant force on the glass at both ends and seems to have endless energy compared to other bigs. He's still learning basketball - he has less than eight years of organized basketball experience.

He'll probably never be a defensive star in terms of switching on the perimeter, but there's untapped potential in Edey, which might sound crazy, but he's made major strides every season with his mobility and his mind. He will continue to make those gains in the NBA. His rebounding and size can make for a functional big inside and he's shown enough on the perimeter to survive. The truth is most bigs can't guard on the perimeter in the NBA.

The potential difference with Edey and some of those bigs is that those bigs don't have the efficiency upside at the other end of the floor. Edey is also an ultimate space eater and Purdue's defense the last few seasons was based around Edey's ability to turn people away from the paint. He's a potential steal late in the lottery or midway through the first round.

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