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When Jesse Edwards picked up his fifth foul against Boston College, stepping into Jaeden Zackery’s path as the guard tore toward the basket in transition, David Edwards didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Edwards fell on his wrist after making contact with Zackery, landed on his back, rolled over onto his stomach and walked to the bench — fouled out of a game for the 11th time this season — to watch the final three minutes of Syracuse’s Feb. 8 win.
It was nearly 4 a.m. in Edwards’ hometown of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and David had watched his son navigate one of his toughest games this season for the previous 37 minutes. In a season-low 13 minutes, Edwards missed layups and was pushed around inside the paint by Boston College center Quinten Post. Edwards didn’t score a single point for the first time this season. But when the final foul, and the injury, happened, it felt like the “icing on the cake” in the worst way possible, David said.
The next day, Edwards messaged David to tell him he had a “bad feeling” in his hand. That bad feeling and bruising — as well as the swelling — worsened as the Orange departed Chestnut Hill and returned to Syracuse, where Edwards underwent X-rays. By that point, he could sense that something was wrong. Results confirmed that Edwards had fractured his left wrist and would miss the remainder of the season, halting his breakout campaign and thrusting uncertainty into Syracuse’s center position after Friday’s procedure. It’s not Edwards’ first wrist injury, but it sends him into an elongated offseason of recovery and improvements.
“It came kind of unexpected just because … normally a bad injury, you can tell right away,” Kai Edwards, his brother, said. “But he got up pretty quick and stuff, so most of us all didn’t really see.”
Edwards’ first wrist injury came when he played for the Netherlands in the Under-18 championship, when he fell on his wrist in the semifinal and was diagnosed with a hairline fracture. Still, there was a week in between the semifinal and championship games, allowing Edwards to play in the championship despite the break. “That’s quite a famous Jesse Edwards moment because everybody knew that he’d had the broken wrist,” David said.
“We know it’s not the most pleasant thing, and the timing’s never good,” David said, “but we also know you can get through them and come back again stronger.”
Connor Pignatello | Assistant Digital Editor
But the timing of this injury stripped Syracuse of its starting center who plays the bulk of its minutes despite his issues with foul trouble. And instead of preparing for the final six games and the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament that follows, Edwards instead will pivot toward an offseason built around recovery. He ignited the Orange’s offense with pick-and-roll movements, just like Kai did when he played at Northern Colorado, and they’ll continue to work on that over the summer when they can. David said Edwards has also talked with the SU coaching staff about staying in Syracuse longer during the offseason and creating a program focused on developing his fitness and strength.
“It’s not like an ACL where you’re gone for a lot of months and he would miss the whole summer or anything,” Kai said. “The whole summer he’ll be able to work out and get stronger and get better. So at least from that perspective, for next year, he should be completely ready to go from the start.”
Limiting the fouls will be a focus too, David and Kai said. When David and Kai watched games, they’d hold their breath at times when guards or forwards drove at Edwards — hoping that he’d keep his hands straight up and avoid the early foul that would force him to the bench. Edwards needs to focus on playing less defense with his hands, Kai said, instead relying more on his footwork and feet to limit the need to place his hands on players when they near him.
Connor Pignatello | Assistant Digital Editor
Since Edwards didn’t score at all against the Eagles, his last basket of his first season as a starter came during the Louisville game, when he finished a layup around the painted area early in the second half. As the game stretched on, with each of his 19 points adding together, the student section started to chant his name. When Edwards checked out of the game for the final time, he clapped back and flung his arms into the air when he reached the end of Syracuse’s bench.
For David, it resembled a similar scene to the Bahamas Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament earlier in the season. The sound of fans, who also waited for him outside the court after the game, chanting “Ed-wards” through the arena. That three-day stretch ended up as a quasi-introduction chapter to Edwards’ breakout was eventually cut short, with two more available seasons to continue that progress.
“The past summer, the whole goal or mission for him was just to get into the rotation,” Kai said. “Now that he’s established, he’s seen that he has the level to be there, where he wants to be playing-wise, I think now he’s more of like, it’s time to start working on the little things.”
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