HOUSTON – Zach Edey remembers receiving his first sports trophy when he was 9-years old playing baseball in Toronto.
“Our baseball team was really good,” Edey said. “We won it three years in a row. We were like the three-peat Toronto champions.”
He also received decals from his youth baseball coaches to put on his helmet.
“I had a few. I definitely had a sticker collection,” Edey said.
These nuggets of information are important to put in perspective after Purdue’s 7-foot-4 junior is bringing back to campus more trophies after winning additional National Player of the Year honors. The latest was Saturday when Edey was selected the United States Basketball Writers Association’s Player of the Year during a ceremony at the Final Four.
He’s now accumulated five National Player of the Year honors with more to come.
He’ll be presented with the USBWA Oscar Robertson Trophy during a ceremony in St. Louis next weekend. Edey was also honored as the AP Player of the Year, which was announced Friday.
He was named the Sporting News’ top player and was voted National Player of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) earlier. And Sunday, Edey was named Naismith Player of the Year during a banquet in Houston.
Edey was selected over Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, Gonzaga’s Drew Timme and Jalen Wilson of Kansas. Kansas State’s Jerome Tang was named the 2023 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year and UCLA’s Jaylen Clark was named the 2023 Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year.
“Zach’s dominance, Jerome’s resolve and Jaylen’s relentlessness make each of them the most deserving of this year’s Naismith honors,” Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, said in a statement. “Their exceptional performances throughout the season have earned them college basketball’s highest honors, and we are immensely proud to recognize their unwavering dedication and abilities. Congratulations to the Big Ten on producing the very best players in both men’s and women’s college basketball this season.”
The Wooden Award is another possible honor for Edey, who becomes the first Canadian native to win National Player of the Year and is the first Boilermaker since Robinson in 1994 to earn National Player of the Year accolades.
Edey is one of five finalists to be invited to Los Angeles for the Wooden Award, joining Timme, Jackson-Davis, Wilson and Houston’s Marcus Strasser.
And here’s one more – he was named the recipient of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given to the nation’s top center by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
REFLECTING ON JOURNEY
When Edey won Big Ten Player of the Year last month, he took time to reflect on his six-year journey of playing basketball and how far he’s come in a short period of time.
“It’s crazy,” Edey said. “I doesn’t even feel real sometimes. I think it’s something that I’ll only really be able to appreciate in a few years when I look back on it because right now – living through it – it feels crazy.
“It’s crazy to think of my name in the conversation of past legends, especially at Purdue, like Glenn Robinson, John Wooden, the past men’s basketball legends and think that my name is going to be next to them, all time in history. It’s a surreal feeling.”
Edey also was named the recipient of the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, awarded to the nation’s top post player. He’s the third Boilermaker to win this award, joining JaJuan Johnson (2011) and the late Caleb Swanigan (2017).
Purdue and Duke are the only programs with three Pete Newell Big Man of the Year award winners.
“It validates all the work I put in over my three years at Purdue,” Edey said. “It validates all the long nights I stayed when no one was watching, validates all the long nights with one of our coaches. Coach (Brandon) Brantley staying two, three hours after practice and watching film. It validates everything. Makes me obviously want to work hard, keep doubling down and just seeing there it will take me.”
Edey enjoyed a monster season, earning consensus first-team All-America honors, averaging 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists per game.
He became the first player in NCAA history (since blocks became an official NCAA stat) to record at least 750 points, 400 rebounds, 70 blocks and 50 assists in a season.
Edey ranked sixth on Purdue’s single-season lists for points (757), first in rebounds (438), fifth in field goals made (290), 14th in field goal percentage (.607), first in dunks (76) and second in double-doubles (27).
He has scored in double-figures in 51 straight games, the longest streak in the country and the fourth-longest streak in school history.
In 99 career games, he has 1,533 points, the most for a player through his junior season in program history, along with 847 rebounds, 148 blocks and 106 assists.
He had eight games of at least 30 points and 10 rebounds, the most for a major-college player in the last 20 years, and his 11 games of at least 25 points and 10 rebounds are the most for a Big Ten player in the last 20 years by four games over Iowa’s Luka Garza.
“Something that everyone always thinks about what their season could be. I had no idea going into this season what would be in store for me,” Edey said. “I think the season could have been basically everything I hoped for, besides obviously the way it ended.
“But up until that point, it was great. It was a great season. We outperformed all expectations. I was able to be a big part of that. My teammates really helped me through it. My coaches really helped me through it. My family helped me through it.”
The next question facing Edey – other than if he’ll return to Purdue or turn pro – where will he put all of these trophies?
“I have no idea,” he said. “Our house isn’t that big. I’ll have to throw a trophy cabinet in one of the guest rooms.”