Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Five: Prospects 8-11October 14, 2016
Vince Edwards has quickly established himself as a key member of the Purdue Boilermakers by starting nearly every game in his two year career, while being a significant contributor to back to back NCAA Tournament teams. Edwards is a well-rounded offensive contributor as he is the only power five conference player who will return to the NCAA for the 2016-17 season to average 16.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per 40 minutes last season.
Measured at 6'8” with a 7'0” wingspan, Edwards has ideal size for the small forward position and with his chiseled 225 pound frame, has the strength to play the power forward spot. Athletically, he is just average, lacking a degree of quickness and explosiveness.
While A.J. Hammons has graduated, Purdue still features two prominent big men in Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan and are expected to continue to feature them together in lineups. This has allowed Edwards to display his versatility by playing both the small forward and power forward spot in various lineups, which has demonstrated to NBA teams that he can be used in different ways at the next level.
Edwards made a substantial leap in his three point shooting accuracy in his sophomore year, as he saw his percentages rise from 32.6% to 40.7% on 4.7 attempts per 40 minutes. There is still a substantial dip in his somewhat mechanical looking jump-shot, which can slow his release and renders him more ineffective when closely guarded, but it's encouraging to see an uptick in his overall efficiency. If he can replicate his accuracy from the three point line as a junior, and speed up his release somewhat, it will go a long way in proving he can be a credible shooting threat from the perimeter at the NBA level.
He has displayed some potential as a slasher from the wing, but this area of his skill-set is still a work in progress. He reads the defense well on drives and recognizes the open areas to find the best possible shot for his teammates or for himself, whether that means passing out early, a pull-up jump shot or navigating all the way to the rim. He's becoming more adept at getting to his spots off the dribble for a mid-range pull-up and he converted 43.6% of his 39 jump shots off the dribble according to Synergy Sports Technology, despite not possessing the most fluid looking jumper.
One area that he will need to improve upon as he develops his attacking game is his ability to finish around the rim in traffic. He lacks a quick first step or creative ball-handling skills to create separation from his man easily, and doesn't have a ton of explosiveness off the move, which can lead to some tough finishes in the paint. He converted just 48.5% of his half-court attempts inside the paint last season according to Synergy Sports Technology, a poor rate for his physical profile. He was able to get to the line 3.7 times per 40 by using his strong frame to absorb contact which helped his efficiency on dribble penetration, but he will need to find more ways to score off the bounce since he may struggle to finish against NBA length.
Edwards flashed some skill as a passer by averaging 4.2 assists to 2.4 turnovers per 40. He can make the right reads from a standstill by seeing cutters, entering the ball into the post or swinging the ball in the flow of the offense to keep the action moving. He started to show some skill as a passer on the move and adding that ability to his arsenal will be the next step in his player development. This will help cement his ability to play from the wing as a multi-faceted offensive attacker.
While Edwards took a step forward in demonstrating what roles he can fill on the offensive end, he is still struggling to show off his defensive value, which is a major component of his potential role at the NBA level. He does have the physical tools and agility to hold his own against either forward position, but he doesn't always play with the energy needed to make plays, which doesn't work considering he's already at a disadvantage athletically. He can switch everything on the perimeter, but he uses this as a crutch to sag way off his man and fails to fight through screens, which allows the offense to move freely.
He did improve as a defensive rebounder and showed more of a desire to help his team finish plays as a sophomore by averaging 5.2 defensive rebounds per 40. However, he failed to produce steals (0.8 per 40) or blocks (0.5 per 40) which demonstrates and awareness his lack of aggression on that end. He's not a finished product defensively and he will need to develop into a versatile defender by improving his motor while taking more pride in slowing down his man to show his potential as a two-way player.
Edwards will continue to have ample opportunity to round out his skill set from the small forward position in a two big lineup while also being able to play some minutes as a power forward to show off his versatility. He will be 20 for the entire season, a young player for his class, and after making some clear improvements to his game as a sophomore after gaining comfort playing in the Big Ten, he will be looking to take another leap as a junior to make a bigger impression with NBA scouts.
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Top NBA Prospects in the Big 10, Part Ten: #16-20October 29, 2015
The son of longtime European basketball professional Bill Edwards (a member of USA Basketball's 1998 World Championship squad), Vince Edwards was considered a borderline Top-100 high school recruit when he committed to Purdue. Playing the entire season as an 18-year old, he exceeded expectations significantly as a freshman, starting almost every game and averaging 27 minutes per contest.
Edwards played primarily at power forward last season, but with McDonald's All-American Caleb Swanigan now in the fold, joining 7-footers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas, he will be asked to move down a position as a sophomore as long as Swanigan's eligibility concerns don't linger.
He has strong physical attributes for a small forward, measured at 6'8 in shoes this summer, with a 225 pound frame and 7'0 wingspan that allows him to play a little bigger than his height. He is not an exceptional athlete however, lacking standout quickness and explosiveness for his position.
Edwards started his freshman season very well, but was somewhat inconsistent once Big Ten play started, seeing his 2-point and 3-point percentages drop to 50% and 26.5% respectively against in-conference competition.
His shooting stroke will draw close scrutiny from talent evaluators, as its one of the biggest keys to him carving out a NBA career. Edwards made just under one 3-pointer per game last season, as he is fairly reliable when left open with his feet set.
Things might be a little different when he's not enjoying the same type of space a face-up power forward does, as he does not possess a very quick release, with long and deliberate stroke that is not particularly smooth or fluid, particularly at the top. While Edwards tends to dip the ball significantly upon the catch, and needs to work on getting his shot off much more quickly, his overall mechanics are not bad at all, as indicated by the decent results he saw as a freshman. His ability to space the floor from the perimeter will be a major key for both Purdue's upcoming season, as well as his own pro future in the long term.
Very fundamentally sound, Edwards has a strong feel for the game, and ranked statistically as the best passing non-guard in the Big Ten already as a freshman, with 4 assists per-40 minutes. He was a key cog in Purdue's half-court offense, the one charged with moving the ball along the perimeter, entering it into the post, and navigating the very tight spacing the team was forced to endure as one of the worst shooting teams in the Big Ten.
Edwards' ability to move off the ball intelligently, scrap for offensive rebounds, finish efficiently inside the arc, and find the open man bodes well for his role-player potential at the next level. He converted 58% of his 2-point attempts as a freshman, showing strong footwork, good body control, and very nice touch around the basket to help make up for his lack of standout explosiveness.
That's important considering Edwards is not and does not project to be a high-volume shot-creator, as he does not possess great ball-handling skills or an overwhelming first step. He showed some ability to attack defenses off straight-line drives last season, primarily off closeouts, but will need to develop this part of his game a little more as he moves to the perimeter full-time.
Thrown straight into the fire as an 18-year old, playing 27 minutes per game against many of the top teams in college basketball, Edwards was overmatched at times as a freshman in the Big Ten. His lack of size at the power forward position could be taken advantage of, and he doesn't show great lateral quickness for a small forward, as he will get blown by off the dribble a little more frequently than you'd like. He forced very few turnovers with just .5 steals and .6 blocks per-40, and grabbed only 4.3 defensive rebounds per-40 as well, which is a bit of a red flag.
To Edwards' credit, he is smart, highly competitive and very fundamentally sound, which leaves room for optimism regarding how he might develop in this area. That, combined with his size, long wingspan and strong frame does give him a nice framework to build on as he gets older and gains experience. The Big Ten is a very unforgiving place for an 18-year old, so it's fair to say that he has time to figure it out, something he'll need to do considering he is far from an elite offensive talent.
This will be an interesting season for Purdue, as they are likely to be one of the few teams in college basketball who will play with two real tradition back to the basket threats at the same time with their three big men (Hammons, Haas, Swanigan) options. The Boilermakers will need floor spacing around their old-school pivots, and Edwards will need to be able to provide that if they are to be successful while he's on the floor. He had a very successful freshman season, but will now need to take the next step in his development and start to make the full-time transition out to the small forward position.
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