To say that Michael Edwards of Westland, Michigan (John Glenn HS) is surging in popularity with college coaches across the USA would be an understatement. A 6’10” 220 pound CENTER is not supposed to be able to play the style that Michael Edwards plays. He has a great handle, long length and impressive shooting range. However, he’s not really a Center. He’s not even a Power Forward! He’s an over-sized Small Forward.
Ever since Michael Edwards picked up a third star from the recruiting sites, he has had far more attention. He’s set to visit UGA this weekend, but it did not stop Bruce Pearl, Steve Wojciechowski and Jamie Dixon from extending offers. He currently has an offer list that includes: Georgia, Auburn, Marquette, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, Nebraska and Boston College. He has interest from: Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Michigan. So-called experts have shifted their view of his recruitment as going from a Nebraska lean to being Michigan’s to lose. Michigan has some roster moves that they must make in order to land him and if they are seriously in the hunt for Jaylen Brown’s one-and-done campaign, they have to make even more room.
Although the workouts have been outstanding and Edwards has shown himself to be a diamond-in-the-rough much like the way Yante Maten was, there’s something different about Edwards. Yante Maten was ready to play Power Forward in college and had the skills of a Power Forward. Michael Edwards is being labeled as a Center, which is inaccurate.
Michael Edwards is Really a Small Forward
Let’s consider this video below:
Edwards is taking on far smaller guys and taking advantage of the opportunities certainly. However, he relishes the opportunity to dribble drive and take the ball up the floor like a Small Forward. He’s used to playing much shorter competition on both ends of the floor and to get the most out of him, you can’t put him in the post.
In this video above, Michael Edwards is in his final game against Romulus High School (a game his school lost) and we see the highlights of his performance. What is noticeable is that Edwards’ instincts and the John Glenn High School coaches’ strategy was to put Edwards on the perimeter so that he would not have to take on Rio Washington from Romulus who is a 6’8″ 270 pound Power Forward in the post. Edwards’ defense on Rio Washington in this video was interesting as we didn’t see too much of what he did against him, but what we were able to gather was that Edwards was looking to not let Washington make an actual post move on him. Washington is a big boy and Edwards is not built to handle that on the defensive end.
On the offensive end, Edwards made the conscious decision to force Washington to move side to side and draw contact by driving him. If Washington sagged off, Edwards knew he had a jump shot. This is what makes Edwards different from 95% of guys that play Power Forward or Center, he can dribble and shake off a defender off the dribble to take a spot-up jumper just like a Small Forward would be able to do.
When Washington was off the floor, Edwards and his coaches felt free to take advantage of the matchups on the floor and put him against the far smaller Romulus players in the post.
So How Does Edwards Project?
He looks like a guy that can put on the weight eventually to play the post. He needs to actually practice against post players without the game being on the line first. He didn’t have that opportunity in High School and his coaches didn’t seem eager to have him take on posts of a similar size on the offensive end. On defense, he’s a work-in-progress considering he’ll be a freshman taking on far better and more physical competition.
He’s not ready for the 4 spot yet. He’ll be physically over-matched. However, he’s a basketball player that’s ready to play in college basketball, just not in the post yet. He’ll need to work on his rebounding skills since not all rebounds are going to come as easily. He’s not afraid to get dirty and take on contact, which is great, but he’ll need to get stronger if he is going to be impactful in the paint without needing a dribble drive or cut to the basket to give him that necessary force.
His ability to shoot from the perimeter, in the mid-range off the dribble and in a catch-and-shoot situation is astounding for a 6’10” prospect. His ability and fearlessness to attack the hoop off the dribble is amazing for a guy his size. It’s a testament to his dedication to becoming a better player and not limiting his own skill set to what a coach or scout would say he is based on his physical stature. He reminds me of a Rashard Lewis type of a player, but when Lewis was more willing to mix it up and attack the paint when he was younger. Not the Rashard Lewis that started drifting toward the 3 point line when he got older. If Michael Edwards puts on some weight and gets some more post skills to mix up with dribble drive abilities, he’ll resemble Tobias Harris a lot more.
Michael Edwards is a hot prospect for a good reason, but it could hinder his development significantly if a coach uses and trains him improperly. He’s not a paint-by-numbers post and he’s certainly NOT A CENTER.