NAPPANEE – The lasting image of many in the NorthWood camp of Trent Edwards was a glazed over, slunken senior forward trying to regain his senses as he was helped off the floor in his final high school basketball game. One moment, however, didn’t gloss over what Edwards did in a whale of a boys basketball campaign.
Edwards suffered a concussion in the championship game of the NorthWood Basketball Sectional, souring what was his final game at The Pit. While the negative memory clouded the team’s championship, only later to have the season scrapped amidst the national coronavirus pandemic, it shouldn’t take away from what Edwards accomplished.
“Protect Trent! Protect Trent!” yelled the NorthWood coaching staff as the tidal wave of students and teammates converged on Edwards as he gripped the sectional trophy. It was fitting the team sent out their leader by himself to meet Norm Sellers to get the hardware following the NorthWood win over Wawasee in the sectional championship. Edwards did just about everything for the Panthers this season, and the team wanted to make sure he got a chance to celebrate in the one game he desperately didn’t want to miss. It was this all-around ability that afforded Edwards our 2019-20 Ink Free News Boys Basketball Player of the Year. The Top 10 will be released tomorrow.
“To me, basketball has always been basketball in my eyes,” Edwards said. “Sure, there was probably a point between my junior and senior year seasons where I really elevated my game and decided I had a real chance to play in college. But in reality, basketball has always been something of a first love to me. It’s that thing that always calms me down after a stressful day of school and what gets me excited for Friday nights.”
From a macro view, Edwards was the scoring leader of a NorthWood team that quietly went about its business in winning 16 games in the regular season and 18 after the sectional championship over Wawasee. Edwards played a key role in the semi-final win over West Noble, and did what he has done all season. Along with the 15.4 points per game, Edwards led NorthWood in assists at 3.5 per game, and was only behind Jason Borkholder and Jamarr Jackson in rebounding, but still pulled down 4.3 caroms per contest. His 38 offensive rebounds and 54 combined blocks and steals showed his knack for finding the ball at any angle.
From a micro view, Edwards didn’t get to where he is in the same manner as some of the recent greats to come through the Panther program. Whereas big-time scorers like Dominic Miranda and Braxton Linville were filling it up as sophomores and juniors, Edwards didn’t take his leap until this season. Guys like Jonathan Wilkinson and DK Fox were already filled out into their body frames by the time they became household names in the Wanee district. Edwards started his freshman year as a stringy 5-10 rookie on the freshman squad, then gained an inch as a sophomore, shot up to 6-2 as a junior and is now 6-3 per the sectional program.
“Trent is a model of consistency, and he’s made drastic improvement from one year to the next,” said NorthWood boys basketball head coach Aaron Wolfe. “What’s encouraging for our basketball program is that he becomes a model for our younger kids. His body wasn’t ready early on. He’s just now growing into his body, to where you will see him in two years, you’ll see him in a much different basketball capacity.
“If you compare Trent to some of the guys from our past, Trent was ready much later than some of the other guys. He’s comparable to a Luke Zurcher, his readiness matches what Luke had when he realized his potential.”
Edwards has that killer instinct coaches and fans look for in a superstar. While he may not advertise himself with a lot of court emotion, Edwards had found a lot of fun in getting NorthWood back into the state conversation after missing the regional in both his freshman and junior seasons.
“I think being one of the quieter teams in the area gave our team motivation to prove ourselves,” Edwards said. “No one expects a small 3-A school from Nappanee to make any runs but that just pushed us to get better everyday.”
His court acumen has also afforded others to shine. Sometimes playing on the court at the same time with upwards of three underclassmen, Edwards’ court savvy has helped others blossom. Wolfe noted the games of Cooper Wiens, Ian Raasch and Jamarr Jackson – all first-year varsity players – have developed in part to the direct and indirect impact Edwards makes on the court.
“I think one of the things that makes our team special is the ability for multiple guys to score double digits on any given night,” Edwards said. “It’s been nice knowing that I don’t have to score 20 every night because I know anytime that I haven’t been making shots that I should, Ben (Vincent) or Jamarr steps up in my place.”
Spoken like a true student of the game.