Zach Edey quickly developing into important player for Canada Basketball

The most intriguing prospects for Canada’s men’s basketball and senior national team programs did not oppose the US Virgin Islands until mid-quarter of Monday’s World Cup qualifiers.

And once he got to the floor, he wasn’t in control exactly, but it was impossible not to see all his movements. Don’t miss Zack Eddie. The center, 7 feet 4 from Toronto, is one of the largest players in history wearing maple leaf. Not only is he tall, he is wide. He has great movement skills for men of his size and is becoming more aware of how to use his size to influence the game at both ends of the floor.

Of course, Canada didn’t have to do much for Eddie. By the time the 20-year-old Purdue University star hits the floor, Canada has risen 38 points and is heading for a predictable 113-67 victory (26 points in 10) thanks to the efforts of NBAers Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. 11 shots), Nickel Walker Alexander (19 points, 7 assists), Kelly Olynyk (11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists), Dwight Powell (15 points, 6 rebounds). They were backed by many veteran European pros, including Kassius Robertson, who scored 24 points from 3 to 8 out of 13 who helped Canada win the Virgin Islands 48 points in February. With the bench unit.

This victory improved the Canadian team’s record to 6-0 in the first phase of next summer’s World Cup qualifying. Canada wants to be one of the seven leading countries in the Americas.

With talents that have already committed — Eleven NBA players signed on as part of the “Summer Core” throughout the 2024 Olympics in Paris — Head coach Nick Nurse needs to choose a lineup that can handle almost any situation.

But the inclusion of Eddie — The only college student on the list — Give them something different yet.

“I’m certainly excited about his uniqueness and expertise that he can bring to the team and give us another piece to make us flexible from the days I was with him. I think the wheels are starting to spin, “said Nurse during a Canadian training camp in Toronto, hosting the Republic of Dominica on July 1st, before traveling to the Virgin Islands for a match on Monday.

“If we need a big one, well, he’s big and can get in there, and it seems to be a factor in FIBA ​​basketball. Size, physics, rim protection in general, but a little different increase [in FIBA].. He’s a young player and we definitely want to see what he can contribute to now, but I’m certainly thinking: this when we go here with him Where do you connect? “

Eddie’s development to this stage was rapid. When he stood 6 feet -10 to start high school, he focused on hockey and baseball until it was hard to deny that basketball might offer more possibilities. He started playing in the 10th grade and participated in the reputed Northern Kings program run by former national team player Vidal Massiah. He immediately transferred to Florida’s IMG Academy for the last two years of his high school before enrolling at Purdue University.

When he got there, he played modestly as a freshman, but when he was selected as an All-Star while playing in Canada at the World Championships under the age of 19 in the summer of 2021, he was on track. Was shown.

Last season, he shot 64.8 percent off the floor in just 19.9 minutes per game for a boilermaker who advanced to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 with an average of 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.

Eddie considered putting his name in the NBA Draft last month, but quickly decided that returning to Purdue in the junior season would be best for everyone involved.

As long as he comes, he feels he has a long way to grow.

“I really learn how to play and understand how to give space to other players,” Eddie said. After playing and training with professionals.

“In college, I’m a guy whose players are spaced apart, but with NBA players, I have to learn how to give them space, give them time, and help them as much as possible.”

Eddie begins his career when the NBA loses focus on players of his size as the league is aggressively committed to three-point shooting and defense schemes featuring players who comfortably guard their surroundings. I am aware that There are a few traditional tycoons who still play an important role, but often they show the ability to hold themselves when adding a three-pointer shoot to the arsenal or switching to a smaller player. I did.

That preparation is a big focus of his training.

“There are many things [to work on]Obviously, “Eddie says. “There are ball screen defenses, foot movements, free throws. You need to protect the rims and leave a little space between the floors. There’s a lot I’m working on.”

What makes Eddie very intriguing to the nurses and the national team is that FIBA ​​rules continue to allow traditional zone defense. This is where the big guys can camp on the paint defensively, unlike the NBA, which requires the paint to leave the paint intermittently with a defensive 3-second rule. .. Canada has sometimes fought an international team with a true big. The defeat to the Czech Republic in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria is the latest example.

As Eddie progresses, he hopes to cause such problems for his opponents and become a counter when the team grows against Canada. The raw materials are considerable. He has a unique size, a good hand, and a good basketball IQ.

He showed it to the Virgin Islands early on, caught a great pass from Olynyk and finished gently with his right hand. After an aggressive rebound, he fouled some property, made free throws, and inhaled a layup attempt by a small Virgin Islands player with his hands in the second half of the quarter. On the fourth time, he blocked the shot and started a fast break, sprinting the floor in time, grabbing an aggressive rebound that bounced around, leading to a Thomas scrub triple.

His offensive highlights were tough catches, ball fake and reverse pivots, leading to a soft reverse layup in the second half of the fourth quarter, balancing, handing and feeling in seconds on the way to 6 points and 3 blocks. Demonstrated all. His 14 minute floor time shot.

“He has the skills,” says Olynyk. “It will come because he has a great touch, good shape, and good action with both hands … he has a lot of room to grow and grow. He works in this situation in the summer. What you can do is great.

“But that means he’s huge. He’s a big, big, big boy. His standing reach, his height, but he’s also wide and has his good frame, he He’s not thin at all. He has all the tools, he just has to keep working on the court, in the weight room, his agility, and in his basketball mind. The game runs a little faster than what he’s used to. He has the ability, he’s just trying to catch up with the game a bit. “

Eddie has made great strides in a short period of time. The program of Nick Nurse and the men’s national team believes he will continue. Hopefully they will all arrive together at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.

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