Doing astonishing things on the basketball court came naturally to Karachi Edo. Things like dunking a basketball on a regulation hoop in the summer before fifth grade.
Mastering the fundamentals has been a more gradual, painstaking process: Jump shooting. Playing team defense. Even dribbling the ball, something the Fresno State power forward admits is still in the developmental phase.
“I’ve got a two-dribble limit,” Edo said with a grin following a recent practice. “If I can’t get to the basket in two dribbles, I’ll pass. To become a complete basketball player, that’s something I have to work on.”
If work is all that’s required, chances are very good Edo will get there eventually.
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Two years after arriving at Fresno State with raw skills and a sculpted physique, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound junior has become much more than a guy who can jump high and dunk.
Not that Edo has stopped doing either of those things. During warm-ups, he’ll run at the basket and soar into the air until his head is at rim level. He calls it “measuring myself.”
He can jump up and touch the top of the backboard.
Fresno State guard Julien Lewis, on Karachi Edo
Google “Karachi Edo” and “dunk” will be the first suggestion, followed by “fresno state” and “basketball.”
The search reveals an assortment of alley-oops and clips dating to Edo’s high school days in Dallas. A personal favorite: the time he vaulted over Bulldogs alum Shannon Swillis during a 2014 dunk contest while the 6-foot-7 Swillis stood outside the restricted-area arc and barely dipped his head.
This year’s highlight reel also would contain plenty of aerial maneuvers. But you’d also have to find room for Edo unfurling soft jumpers from the foul line and showing the beginnings of a post game.
“He’s worked on his skill set,” Fresno State coach Rodney Terry said. “He came in as one of the best athletes in the country, and had legit Big 12 offers because of that. He’s become a really good player now because he can make 15-foot shots.
“You feel comfortable with him shooting the basketball.”
While not a focal point of the offense, Edo ranks as the Bulldogs’ third-leading scorer at 9.5 points per game. He’s also their second-leading rebounder (7.5) and top shot-blocker (1.5) despite ranking fifth on the team in minutes (22.9).
I’m the glue guy. I’m a team player who brings energy.
What the stats don’t show are all the little things Edo does for a Fresno State team still finding its bearings in Mountain West Conference play. The Bulldogs are 2-2 (11-6 overall) heading into Saturday’s game against San Jose State at Save Mart Center.
“I’m the glue guy,” Edo said. “I’m a team player who brings energy, goes out there and gets rebounds and keeps the team alive. Just play hard and get the dirty work done. Get tip-ins and easy points, let the team get hyped off little stuff that I do.”
Edo also plays a critical role on defense. During games he can be heard alerting teammates to screens and calling out switches, with a voice so deep and rumbling that it could emanate from a mine shaft.
During games Edo can be heard alerting teammates to screens and calling out switches, with a voice so deep and rumbling that it could emanate from a mine shaft.
Said teammate Julien Lewis: “It sounds like a lion growling at somebody because he’s hungry.”
During his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, Edo spent most of his time as an undersized center. Torren Jones’ arrival has allowed him to switch to power forward. Except now, instead of battling all game against guys three and four inches taller, Edo often finds himself matched up against shorter and quicker players.
“Not banging with the 5’s no more, killing my body every night,” he said. “But it’s a different type of challenge defending smaller guys, even switching off the point guard sometimes. It’s a matter of coming up to speed.”
Edo played one of his best games during Fresno State’s disappointing 77-62 loss to New Mexico on Jan. 2, finishing with 11 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two steals.
The one blemish: a 3-for-10 night at the free-throw line, where he is shooting just 54 percent.
As Bulldogs fans filed out of SMC, Edo returned to the court by himself, still in uniform, and began shooting free throws. He kept on shooting until he made 501 of them, which took about 90 minutes. When he was done, the arena was practically empty.
501 Free throws made by Karachi Edo in a postgame session after going 3 of 10 against New Mexico
“I told myself (3 for 10) wasn’t good enough for me,” Edo said. “I let my team down by missing those free throws.”
His coach certainly noticed.
“Guys that we’ve coached who are really good players and playing for money right now, that’s what they’ve done,” Terry said. “When they didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, they came back out – in their uniform. That’s the kind of drive and work ethic it takes. No one tells them to.”
Soaring through the air and dunking will always be big parts of Edo’s game. Only now, there’s plenty more to it.