Zach Edey Named Back-to-Back AP Player of the Year

On Friday, Purdue star Zah Edey was named the Associated Press Player of the Year. The towering center becomes the first back-to-back winner since Ralph Sampson — Sampson won three years in a row while starring at Virginia (1981-83).

Additionally, Edey becomes the fifth player to win Player of the Year back-to-back seasons. Edey received 57 of 62 total votes — Dalton Knecht (Tennessee) received three and Jamal Shead (Houston) received two votes. Edey’s personal triumph comes on the heels of the big man leading Purdue to its first Final Four since 1980.

“I get to pay [coach Matt Painter] back. There were so many coaches that looked over me, like you could — name a program — I could name a coach that looked over me,” Edey said. “Tennessee, Rick Barnes is a great coach, but he was at our practice, looked over me. It’s kind of been the story of my life. People have doubted me. People looked past me. Can’t do that anymore.”

The 7-foot-4 Canadian grew up playing baseball and hockey, but upon enrolling at the IMG Academy in Florida Edey joined the basketball team. Despite playing the sport for just one year, coach Matt Painter took a flier on Edey’s potential.

“We were fortunate, right? I didn’t know he was going to turn into a two-time national player of the year,” Painter said. “I did think he would be good, I just didn’t know when he would be good. But he had good hands, he had good feet, he just needed repetition and work so right away, I was like, ‘We’re going to throw him the ball when he’s open.’ He’s always open.”

After averaging 25 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks per game in the regular season, Edey has been even better in the NCAA Tournament. Through four games, Edey is averaging 30.0 PPG and 16.3 RPG. In the Elite Eight victory over Tennessee, Edey scored 40 points and tallied 16 rebounds. On Saturday, Purdue takes on NC State for a shot to play for the National Championship.