West Virginia, improbably, has become one of the most interesting teams of the college basketball offseason. After landing former Arizona point guard Kerr Kriisa in the transfer portal last month, the Mountineers pulled off another major coup on Sunday by signing former Syracuse center Jesse Edwards.
One of the most coveted players in the transfer portal, Edwards averaged 14.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.3 steals in 32.6 minutes for Syracuse last season. As a result, the 6’11 redshirt junior made the All-ACC Third Team and the All-ACC Defensive Team.
“I felt it was time for a fresh start,” Edwards said. “I needed a new environment to challenge myself in and I think West Virginia is just that. I’ve met some great people on my visit here and the campus looks amazing. This team could be something special.”
For West Virginia, adding Edwards is a massive boon for a team that sometimes struggled on the interior. While West Virginia made the NCAA Tournament, they were addled with an undersized roster. None of their top five minute getters were taller than 6’9.
Similarly, the Edwards signing cements West Virginia as one of the most powerful NIL operations in college basketball. With the Country Roads Trust collective fronted by Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick and former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck leading the way, West Virginia was able to beat out traditional basketball powerhouses like Kansas and Gonzaga for Edwards.
For Syracuse, losing Edwards is a major loss, but the more concerning aspect is the why they lost Edwards.
“NIL isn’t what I’m playing for,” Jesse Edwards told ESPN. I didn’t really want to get into this, but it doesn’t seem that Syracuse as an organization is that into that. I’m not really sure what their plan is or what the school’s idea is behind it. For me it was something that they couldn’t offer in that way.”
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