Purdue's Zach Edey again voted Player of the Year

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 05 Apr, 2024 at 05:24 PM

Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue center Zach Edey was named Associated Press Player of Year on Friday, becoming the first back-to-back winner since Virginia 7-footer Ralph Sampson took the honor three straight years in the early 1980s.

Edey, the fifth player to win the award in consecutive seasons, and the Boilermakers are in Glendale, Ariz., playing for different trophy -- college basketball's national championship -- with the Final Four set to begin Saturday.

No. 1 seed Purdue will face No. 11 seed North Carolina State in the semifinals.

Edey is averaging 30 points in the NCAA Tournament, which includes a career-high 40 points with 16 rebounds to punch Purdue's ticket to the Final Four on Sunday in a 72-66 victory over Tennessee.

Purdue suffered painful early-round losses in Edey's previous seasons. The Boilermakers were on the wrong side of epic and memorable upsets at the hands of Fairleigh Dickinson (2023) and Saint Peter's (2022) before this year's breakthrough, a return to the Final Four for the first time since 1980.

"When you're trying to separate yourself, you're really getting into trivial things that don't matter, but they do matter if you follow somebody and follow sports," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "What separates greatness is winning, ultimately. The people that win more. The people that have more success when you look back."

Edey was National Player of the Year in 2023 and after entering the draft process, announced his return for the 2023-24 season via social media with three words: Run it back.

And did he ever.

With concentrated work on conditioning and expanding his shooting range, Edey led the nation in scoring and is averaging 25 points with 12.2 rebounds this season. Purdue has already placed his No. 15 jersey in the rafters at Mackey Arena alongside greats such as Glenn Robinson and John Wooden.

His next opponent is NC State, and Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts wasn't shy about confirming his team worries about containing the imposing, 7-4, 320-pound Edey.

"If you ask me who keeps you up at night right now, it's Zach Edey," Keatts said. "He's playing at a high level. He can score the ball. We got to get him out of that lane. He lives in that lane. He's really talented. The way he's become a lot better is he passes the ball a lot."

By improving his passing out of the post, Edey helped Purdue to a 40.61 3-point percentage in a dramatic improvement from a ranking in the 300s last season. The Boilermakers give opponents what Gonzaga coach Mark Few described as a no-win scenario on defense.

"When those guards shoot it like that, it's pick your poison," Few said after losing to Purdue in the regional semifinals last week. "It was -- they shot it great from three, and then in the second half, we, I think, shut down that area pretty good. Then Edey was just a load. It's a nice entity to have, just pitch it into him. If you play him one-on-one, he's either going to get fouled or score."

--Field Level Media