Photo By Emma Corona/Tennessee Athletics
Freshman guard and Knoxville native B.J. Edwards has played just six minutes for Tennessee basketball in conference play and is firmly outside of the Vols’ 10-man rotation.
But, as eighth-year head coach Rick Barnes is quick to point out, the Vols have extreme experience and depth on this seasons team. Only two freshmen are playing serious roles on this Tennessee (18-3, 7-1 SEC) team and both are frontcourt players.
“I think he’s getting better,” Barnes said. “I think, obviously, with playing with an older group of guys that he’s had to come in and deal with. We still think he’s a big part of this program and certainly a big part of our future.”
While Vol fans haven’t seen him on the court frequently this season, the freshman guard remains engaged in practice. When Josiah-Jordan James was pointing and smiling at Jonas Aidoo after Olivier Nkamhoua put Aidoo on a poster last week, it was Edwards that finally stepped in front of James and guided him away from Aidoo.
“He’s got a great attitude,” Barnes said. “Guys love him. He’s not afraid to compete. It’s just, as you know, we’re in a situation where it’s hard to go beyond where we are right now in the rotation with the numbers. What we love about him is that he’s truly trying to get better everyday.”
The 6-foot-3 former Knoxville Catholic guard is a strong athlete and driver of the basketball. His shooting needs improvement. Combine that with adjusting to the college game and Tennessee’s deep bench and it’s little surprise the former four-star recruit has played in just nine games this season.
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On the season, Edwards is averaging 1.2 points and 0.8 rebounds per game while averaging 4.3 minutes in his nine games played. The majority of his minutes have come in mop up duty while the combo guard continues to improve on the practice floor.
“I love BJ. I think his attitude and the way he carries himself every practice is great,” senior guard Santiago Vescovi said. “You don’t ever see him with a bad face or anything. Even if he does something wrong and coach tells him not to do it or whatever, you can see him with a positive attitude. He is going to try and come back and do it better every single time. I think he carries himself great and he also has a lot of potential.”
Tennessee returns to the court Wednesday night when they travel to Gainesville to face Florida. Tip-off at the O’Connell Center is at 7 p.m. ET. ESPN2 is broadcasting the game.