10/15/20 Basketball Practice, Zach Edey

Freshman center Zach Edey goes up for a layup in an October practice, watched by assistant coach Brandon Brantley.

A new weapon has entered the Boilermakers’ historic arsenal of enormous centers: an even larger center.

Freshman Zach Edey, the 7-foot-4-inch big man hailing from Toronto, Ontario, played high school ball at the well-known powerhouse IMG Academy in Florida. Edey was ranked among the top five players in Canada during his senior season. He has a background as a baseball player and only began playing basketball in 2018.

When Edey committed to Purdue, the Boilermakers were in a very different position than they are today. It was assumed that the Boilers would have former center Matt Haarms for another year and sophomore center Emmanuel Dowuona would be healthy and ready to go. Under those conditions, Edey may have redshirted to further develop his game.

But Purdue faces a different reality. Haarms unexpectedly transferred to BYU over the summer and Dowuona has been out of practice with breathing problems as of late. While Edey is still young, a gap has been left in the Boilermaker roster — one Edey is going to have to fill.

“I wouldn’t say he’s our backup by any stretch of the imagination,” head coach Matt Painter said after Monday’s intra-squad scrimmage. “He’s led us in rebounding in competitive drills. He’s performed well, he’s really done a good job for us. I’ve been pleased with his progress so far.”

Edey had 17 points, seven rebounds and went 6-6 from the field in Monday’s scrimmage. Painter noted that Monday was the first time Edey didn’t lead the team in rebounds during a scrimmage.

Front court teammate junior Trevion Wiiliams had high praise for Edey, and has previously said the 7-footer gives even him trouble with his elite height and length.

“He’s going to be really good,” Williams said. “He’s a big dude, but he can move, he’s really long. He blocks everything, dunks everything.”

“The thing that surprised me the most about him is his quickness. He’s pretty quick to be 7-foot-4.”

Edey has played less than three years of basketball, but you can’t teach size. As the tallest player in the Big Ten, he gives Purdue a serious advantage on the court.

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