He was always going to be good. You knew that. You could see it from the first day on the court.
But it’s hard for even the most optimistic to admit that they saw Carsen Edwards becoming this good this quickly.
The numbers are staggering. He averaged just over six minutes more per game his sophomore season, but he improved dramatically at everything. He went from 10 points a game to 18, but more importantly went from shooting 38% from the floor to nearly 46%, from 34% from the three point line on 144 attempts to over 40% on 239 attempts. In advanced terms, he went from a high-volume, low efficiency shooter with a true shooting percentage of just 48.9% to one of the best shot-makers in the country, tough shots. His true shooting percentage jumped to 59.6%. His assist rate went from just above 14% to 19%, while his turnovers teetered the other way, falling from 18% to just 12%.
He did this all while adding the one thing he needed more for last summer: pace. Talks with his private trainer, Joey Burton, always led back to that four-letter word. Carsen needed to learn to be patient, when to attack, and how. He needed to work on the pace of his jump shot, something he rushed too frequently his freshman season.
The little guard from Texas put in the work, and it showed when the games got most important. As impressive as his whole year was, it was how Carsen finished over the last two months of the season that propelled him into being a finalist for Player of the Year and the award winner for best shooting guard in the country.
In the last twelve games of the season, dating all the way back to February 7th where he scored 28 points against Ohio St., Carsen Edwards averaged over 22 points a game including games of 40 points against Illinois, 30 against Texas Tech in the sweet Sixteen, 27 in the Big Ten Tournament against Penn St., and 26 against Rutgers in the B10 Tournament game the night before. He went 40 of 95 from three in those last twelve games.
Even if Carsen does improve on his shooting again, it’s hard to hope or even need any better than that kind of efficiency on that kind of volume.
Which brings us to the easiest what he needs to work on post this summer. It’s easy mostly because he worked so hard last year that Edwards doesn’t really have a flaw anymore.
But he needs to improve his playmaking. Especially now that he won’t be surrounded by four seniors who were all capable of making plays for each other and knew how to get open and where to get open. It will now be Carsen’s ship to run alongside Nojel Eastern. He still needs to work on pace, but instead of using his dribbles and quickness, his strength and techniques to get shots for himself, he’ll need to expand on ways to draw the attention of the defenders and kick out or drop off to the collection of athletes and shooters he’ll have around him.
The nice thing about seniors is they tend to be well-rounded players. Almost everyone could shoot on the court last year, and the one who couldn’t was a gigantic basket eating monster down low. It was an ideal situation for someone that can get his own shot whenever he wants. This year, teams will be more focused than ever on Edwards. That means it’ll be harder to get his open looks and clear runs to the rim, but it should also mean he’ll be able to take advantage of his teams new found athleticism and length.
If Edwards can make a similar jump in assists to that of his scoring last year while keeping his turnovers low then this team might not just not lose a step next year, they might gain one.