PORTLAND – There are thousands of recruiting stories in college basketball and then there’s Ryan Edwards’ unique tale.
Edwards saw limited playing time at Gonzaga in three seasons – he redshirted in 2015 – before announcing that he was skipping his senior year roughly three weeks after the Zags’ loss in the national championship game.
He was planning on finding a job with his degree in broadcasting. He didn’t plan on a chance meeting while visiting a couple of friends on a weekend trip to Portland.
“I was out with my buddies and ran into two (Portland State) assistant coaches at this little restaurant downtown,” the 7-foot-1 center said. “This was all out of the blue. They said, ‘Are you Ryan Edwards from Gonzaga?’
“It was weird, I’m telling you. But it felt like it was a meant-to-be type of thing.”
After a couple of days and talking it over with his parents, Edwards decided to transfer to the Big Sky school. He’s started all five games, including a 99-81 loss to No. 1 Duke in a PK80 opener Thursday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
“Ryan should be a handful in our league,” Vikings coach Barret Peery said. “He’s very skilled and talented. He’s played with good teams. Ryan has a great opportunity to really impact our program.”
Edwards, who has reached double figures three times in five games, had an eventful first two minutes. He drained a 3-pointer but picked up two quick fouls, the latter trying to help defensively as Grayson Allen threw down a one-handed dunk.
Edwards sat out the rest of the half as the Vikings took a 49-45 lead. He was hit with two more fouls in the second half and played a total of nine minutes.
He finished with four rebounds, three points and one steal. He had a couple of shots swatted by Duke’s talented frontcourt, which included possible No. 1 draft pick Marvin Bagley III.
“Those guys are unbelievable, man,” Edwards said. “They’re top 3, top 5 picks for a reason. Tall, athletic and they can shoot.”
Edwards called his time at GU “the best four years of my life,” but playing time was scarce behind the likes of Przemek Karnowski, Domantas Sabonis, Kyle Wiltjer, Sam Dower Jr., and Zach Collins.
“Obviously something didn’t click for me for four years at Gonzaga,” said Edwards, who missed his only two 3-point attempts as a Zag but has made 4 of 7 for PSU. “This is one year to give it another shot. It’s just fun playing again and having a big role on the team and being a contributor.”
Edwards ran into some of his former GU teammates Wednesday night at a Nike tip-off banquet. He stays in contact with Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, two of the Zags’ elder statesmen.
“It was cool seeing all the guys,” he said. “It looks like they’re pretty good this year. It’s definitely a different team. I’ll be watching them on TV.”
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