Whitby’s Justin Edwards is set to make his mark on the United States College basketball circuit.
The 6′ 2″ point guard, who signed a National Letter of Intent last May with the University of Maine, is anxious to display the skills that made him one of the top players in Canada. He was the 8th ranked player in this year’s national high school class.
Edwards said he chose the Black Bears over 17 other U.S. colleges, including George Washington University, Georgia Tech and Marquette, because the program offered him the best opportunity to be a first-year starter.
“The expectations with the other schools were that I would play in the second year,” he said. “There were no guarantees of playing time in my freshman year. I chose Maine because I saw the opportunity to play this season and shine in the conference and also because I did not want to play in a city school where there might be distractions.”
The alma mater of Rick Carlisle who coached the Dallas Mavericks to its first National Basketball Association (NBA) title this season, the Maine roster includes another Canadian – 6′ 9″ junior forward/centre Mike Allison.
“I spoke with him briefly and he assured me that I made the right choice,” said Edwards. “We will see.”
In five years at Anderson Collegiate Vocational Institute, Edwards scored nearly 3,400 points and led the team to Lake Ontario Secondary Athletic Association championships each year and an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championship.
The four-time Most Valuable Player and school Athlete of the Year averaged 20.4 points, 5.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 steals during a sparkling high school career.
His sterling resume impressed University of Maine’s coach Ted Woodward.
“Justin is an explosive versatile perimeter player that scores in a variety of ways,” said Woodward. “He is a great athlete and an explosive force on the perimeter. He has had an outstanding high school career and will be a wonderful addition to our team.”
Edwards, who formed a dynamic duo with forward Dyshawn Pierre at Anderson, shifted his focus from soccer – which he played for nearly seven years up until age 10 – to basketball in Grade 4.
“I was the youngest player on my Grade 6 team and I realized back then I had some potential and I could go far in the sport,” recalled Edwards whose father Julian plays recreational basketball.
Edwards’ mother, Nancy Downes, attended Indiana University on a track and field scholarship.
The University of Maine was 15-15 last season.