Ryan Edwards: Incomplete
It’s hard to get a good evaluation of Ryan Edwards talents and abilities. He’s played only 90 minutes this year; about half those of Bryan Alberts and 34 minutes less than Shem has in 5 games. He’s been like a seat filler at the Academy Awards, jump in for 4 or 5 minutes than right back out. He’s never been integrated into the offense and I’ve only seen him get a post pass on a couple of occasions. Sometimes he’s looked good, sometimes not so much. You could talk about his 9.8 rebounds per game projected over 40 minutes, until you realize Rem Bakamus’s rebound projection for 40 minutes is 17.8. The sample size is just too small.
Everyone remembers Ryan as a freshman at BYU. In 8 minutes, he made two field goals, a free throw and had five rebounds. The youngster from Kalispell sure looked promising. He arrived at GU as a semi-lumpy 300-pounder who would have probably redshirted his freshman year if Sam Dower wasn’t injured. The excess weight came off quickly, but not in a way anyone would have wanted. He was out for about 6 weeks early in the season with Mono and lost close to 30 pounds. Two years of good diet and weight-training have transformed him into a rock solid 295 pounds with the one basketball intangible you can’t teach, 7’1”. Okay, so he’s big, he’s strong but will he be a valuable contributor during the rest of the season and his two remaining years of eligibility?
One the positive side, Ryan has good hands and has shown a couple of good post moves with a pretty decent baby hook. With his size and strength, he’s going to draw a lot of fouls and thankfully he’s a good foul shooter at 71% for his college career. He has 22 total rebounds this year with 10 of those being offensive so he knows how to get position. He has decent mobility, runs the floor well and demonstrates a good degree of toughness while on the floor. He has the tools, it seems the only thing holding him back is a lack of game experience.
On the negative side, due to his lack of minutes Ryan sometimes looks a little lost on offense, seemingly unsure whether to set up in the post or get to the perimeter and screen. He’s also good for a at least one moving screen, one over the back or one offensive foul setting up in the post per game. The fouls in the post are somewhat understandable considering he’s practiced his whole career battling Shem and Sabonis for position. That 6’8” 230 lb. WCC post player bounces off him a little easier than he’s used too. I didn’t want to use the per 40 stats on Ryan, but the 9.8 fouls is something he’s really going to have to correct. In his college career thus far, Ryan has had 12 turnovers and only one assist. He needs some work on taking care of and distributing the ball.
So, back to the question of what’s in the future for Ryan. If Shem returns and/or no other injuries, Ryan will continue to be a role player. If Sabonis or Wiltjer get into foul trouble or, lord help us get injured, Ryan is going to be a key player on the team. If either couldn't start, it will be interesting to see if he’d become a starter of Few goes to a four guard line-up. Either way, Ryan's playing time will increase and it will help prepare him for big minutes over the next two years. He certainly has the tools to be an above average offensive player and increased minutes will allow him to get into the flow of the game and integrate him into the offense. As far as the fouls, Shem and Sabonis had the same problem but learned to adjust, so will Ryan. His height, strength and mobility will make him a solid rebounder and a good rim protector. Wiltjer is gone next year, Shem probably, Sabonis maybe. Will Ryan be the answer to a "who followed Sacre, Olynyk and Karnowski as the Gonzaga center" trivia question or will he have carved out his own niche and be added to the three previous names? Only time will tell, but I wouldn't bet against the big kid from Kalispell.