Fresno State Basketball

Playing basketball for Fresno State is more than just about coming home for Daryl Edwards

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Daryl Edwards says he made a lot of memories at Fresno High. As a senior, the 6-foot-3 guard scored 24.9 points per game in leading the Warriors to a Central Section Division III championship, knocking off top-seeded Roosevelt to take home their first title in 34 years.

He says his decision to return home to Fresno State as a graduate transfer after initially signing with Mountain West Conference rival Nevada simply came down to wanting to create a few more.

And, wanting to do more in his hometown.

“There are so many things I want to do for Fresno, to do in my community after I’m done playing,” Edwards said. “It was, ‘Why not?’ It just felt like a win-win situation.”

At the top of Edwards’ list, a basketball tournament to curb gang violence in the city. He is starting a nonprofit organization toward that goal.

“I always wanted to give back, but I didn’t know how to,” said Edwards, who played the past two seasons at LSU after starting his college career at Northwest Florida State, a community college. “I always thought about having an AAU team or something, but you know, that’s already been done. I just wanted to go outside and help the community because when I come home for the summer or spring break I see so many things going on that could be prevented just by communicating with other people …

“I have a few people who are willing to donate already so the expenses are pretty much paid for. At this point, I’m getting more members that will be playing in the tournament and then I’ll just need to get the Fresno Police behind it so they can secure the games so no violence will go on during the tournament.”

The goal is to have a tournament up and running next summer.

More immediate: He wants to take advantage of a second chance at a senior season after suffering a lower leg injury nine games into the 2018-19 season at LSU.

Edwards was averaging 4.4 points and 1.6 rebounds, playing 17.1 minutes per game for the Tigers when he was sidelined. He had surgery in January and is expected to be ready when coach Justin Hutson and the Bulldogs open practice in the fall and be a critical piece for a team that loses guards Deshon Taylor and Braxton Huggins, as well as forward Sam Bittner.

Taylor last season was a first-team All-Mountain West selection, the only player on any of the all-conference teams ranked in the Top 10 in nine of 13 statistical categories.

Huggins was a second-team selection and the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, averaging 18.5 points per game.

The two senior guards last season combined to take 42.2 percent of the Bulldogs’ shots and score 43.9 percent of their points in a 23-9 season.

CEK PREPHOOPS_DIIIBOYS_07
Fresno’s J’Veon Jones, left, and Daryl Edwards celebrate a point against Roosevelt in their boys Division III Central Section championship game at Selland Arena Saturday, March 8, 2014. CRAIG KOHLRUSS THE FRESNO BEE

Edwards, who already has received a medical hardship waiver to play next season, is a perfect fit adding depth to a backcourt that returns Noah Blackwell and New Williams with Oregon State transfer Jordan Campbell eligible at mid-year and incoming freshmen Jarred Hyder and Anthony Holland.

“He’s exactly what we need,” Hutson said. “He’s an experienced, mature guard who can do a little bit of everything. He’s an explosive scorer – I think he had a game where he had 60 in high school or something. But he can also facilitate and he has a very high IQ – he’s a mature basketball player, which will really help us.”

LSU coach Will Wade suggested as much back in February, when Edwards was looking to transfer.

“Shoot, I take more calls on him than anybody,” Wade said, in nola.com. “He’s a hot commodity. … I take two or three calls a day on him from different coaching friends. He’ll have the pick of the litter. He’ll be able to go somewhere good and finish off his career.”

Edwards signed with Nevada in February but obtained a release after coach Eric Mussleman left to take a job at Arkansas. The Wolf Pack later hired Steve Alford, who was fired last season at UCLA.

The phone again started ringing, but by that time Edwards knew he wanted to go to a mid-major program and eventually to return to Fresno.

“All the high major schools that called, I wasn’t interested,” Edwards said. “I knew in my heart I always wanted to come back home; it was just never the right time. But I think finally it’s the perfect time and Coach Hutson and I, we have a great relationship.

“The system is very comparable with my game and the way that I play. I feel like being from the hometown, there will be a little more excitement and it will bring in more fans, it will bring in my family – they’ve never really been able to see me play. It’s a great situation.”

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
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