Three hours before former Purdue basketball player Carsen Edwards was scheduled to sign autographs at University Bookstore on Saturday, fans had already begun lining up. An hour later, the line was already down the block.
Edwards, a two-time All-American for Purdue and second-round draft pick for the Boston Celtics, spent over two hours signing autographs, taking pictures and interacting with fans. The hot weather seemed to do little to dampen the moods of excited fans filing into the crowded store to get Edwards’ signature on everything from pictures to basketballs to shoes.
“It’s a great environment,” said Jerry Hodge, a class of ‘82 alumnus. “The fans here are great.”
Hodge, who was in town for his graduating class’s 41st reunion, was getting pictures signed as a surprise for his two sons, whom he used to take to autograph signings when they were younger.
Hodge has been a fan of Purdue ever since he was a student, following Edwards “since day one.”
“We get the kids that want to work a little bit harder,” Hodge said, “and it’s really great to see what (Edwards) was able to accomplish in the three years he was here.”
Younger fans were equally ecstatic to see Edwards back on campus.
“It’s really exciting,” said Melany Reyes, a student in the Polytechnic Institute. "Just that he comes from the same University as us. ... It’s really cool.”
Matt Baggeroer, a sophomore in the College of Science who hails from Boston, Massachusetts, came with a Celtics rally towel from Kobe Bryant’s final game in Boston.
“I was so hyped about that,” Baggeroer said about Edwards playing for Boston. Baggeroer followed Edwards' impressive summer league performance, in which he averaged 19 points a game.
Reyes and Baggeroer both watched him play in person in Mackey Arena last year.
“It was electric,” said Baggeroer on Edwards’s in-game performances.
Edwards, who was named Most Outstanding Player in the South Region in the 2019 March Madness tournament, gained a huge following during his three years at Purdue. Those fans showed him just how much they cared by showing up by the hundreds at the bookstore on Northwestern Avenue.
After staying for an extra 35 minutes to be sure to sign as many autographs as possible, Edwards did not have time to speak with The Exponent.