Stocks are weird.
Carsen Edwards headed into the NCAA tournament with a stock trending so far down that the once National Player of the Year candidate was almost certainly coming back for his senior year to do damage control. His shot, once the biggest weapon in the B10, had abandoned him. Instead of finding other ways to get back into a groove, the last two months he kept chucking, kept believing, and, mostly, he kept missing.
The Boilers were bounced in their first Big Ten Tournament game in Chicago. A game where Edwards scored just 11 points and went 1 of 8 from three. The team as whole appeared reeling and March was setting up for another disappointment.
Fast Forward to now, and Carsen Edwards is most certainly not coming back for his senior year. The Junior guard didn’t wait for next year, instead he redeemed himself, and wrote an entire chapter on his legacy on the biggest stage in college basketball.
He took Purdue to their first Elite Eight, breaking a lot of bad mojo on the way and giving Coach Painter’s his first taste of real tournament success. The Boilers were a missed free throw, and miraculous tip back, pass forward, last second floater away from having made it to the Final Four.
Today, Edwards is still in Indiana, about an hour south of Purdue’s campus, straight down I-65. He’s working out for the in-state NBA team, the Indiana Pacers, being watched by another Indiana basketball legend.
Is this possible? Could the kid from Texas, who made the trip to Indiana, and changed the state’s major basketball program trajectory, possibly being staying in the homeland of basketball?
The Indiana Pacers have two picks in the 2019 NBA Draft currently: pick #18 and #50.
Eyeballing it, the 18 is probably too early and the 50 is too late, but certain NBA mock drafts has Carsen Edwards going as early #23 to the 76ers, another team that needs shooting. Is five picks really too much of a reach for a team that struggles to sell tickets, and who has already found success with a player who made his mark playing college ball in the state of Indiana.
The Pacers need guards and they need points. Nearly their entire roster is full of players whose contracts expired with the end of the 2019 season. Bojan Bogdanovic (18 ppg), Tyreke Evans (15.3), Darren Collison (12), Corey Joseph (7.5), and Wesley Matthews (7) are all free agents, and all starting next season on the wrong side of 30. They combined for nearly 60 points a game.
The Pacers future rests in the hands of two talented - though perhaps ill-fitting big men - and a recovered Victor Oladipo. It is probably time the Pacers infuse their roster with youth. Oladipo will be good next year when he plays, but scary leg injuries usually take more than an off-season to fully heal. He will need help.
Could a Boilermaker-Hoosier back court be part of what brings the Pacers back into prominence?
Edwards showed himself in the NCAA tournament to be one of the single-handedly most dominant guards in the country. In four games, he scored 26, 42, 29, and 42. The last game, a 42 point stunner against Virginia, will be the game NBA gm’s point to if they want to convince themselves that the a little too short guard is capable of being a major impact in the NBA.
He scored that 42 against the best defensive in the country, and a good portion of it, against maybe the best defender in the country, De’Andre Hunter, who will almost definitely be a top 5 to 7 pick in this year’s draft.
Edwards ability to shoot from anywhere - and I mean anywhere - is the kind of thing that changes the entire geometry of the court. It’s the biggest X-factor in a league where shooting is more king than ever.
This is a weak NBA Draft after the lottery. There aren’t a ton of players in the late teen to early twenties that might alter a franchise. Carsen Edwards has shown flashes that he could be.
Maybe I’m just not ready to let him go or I’m a sucker for narrative, but Edwards staying in Indiana and doing for the Pacers what he did for Purdue sounds like a long shot, but he’s been hitting those his whole career.