Not Robbie. Not E'twaun. Not Jajuan. Not Big Dog.
On the top of the freshman of the week hill, there is only Vince Edwards. Mr. Edwards became the first Boiler to win the Freshman of the Year award for the third time in a season. The 6'7" Edwards came up big at Rutgers and against Nebraska when our Boilers needed it most. He averaged 11 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block over the week while shooting over fifty percent from the field and hitting on 3 of his 7 three point attempts.
As we reach the final stretch of Big Ten play, it's a good time to step back and admire the newest diaper dandy to wear black and gold. For the year, he's averaging 9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists a game while shooting over 50% for the year. He is the only freshman with averages that high in all three categories. Which is, I'll admit, a very weird place to draw your stat lines. It does show though what Edwards brings to the table as a stretch four capable of handling the ball and working the glass while supplying some much needed perimeter shooting.
Of course, he's not any of those hallowed names up above, yet, but you have to be happy with what we've seen out of him as a true freshman. His most striking skill does not show up conventionally in the stat sheets, and it's not something you expect from a player who hasn't reached his twenties. For a freshman, Edwards has been remarkably consistent. He stuffs the stat sheets with a rebound here, an assist there, and always seems to be there on a team that struggles to put two possessions of good basketball together.
He's not the shooter Hummel was, or an attacker like Moore was with the ball, but he shows bits of both. It's his versatility that has really allowed this team to thrive on defense and survive on offense. He's big enough to guard opposing fours while quick enough to guard any guards when the Boilermakers switch on pick and rolls. This allows for Hammons to stay at home at the rim and for the defense to not break down - in theory - and allow open threes and lanes to the rim. On offense, Edwards ability to knock down perimeter shots(he's shooting 36% from range) allows room for Hammons and Haas to operate inside. He's a calming presence and never rushes when he has the ball. He allows the plays to come to him, and has a heady sense for when to attack a defender when he's off balance.
We all have a special place in our hearts for those original Baby Boilers, not to mention the space in the rafters of Mackey Arena. With a strong performance in Bloomington and a win, we might just start thinking there's room for the number 12.