Junior ready to make his mark in Bramlage

(Photo by Parker Robb | Collegian) K-State and Oklahoma State players reach for a rebound in the second half of the Wildcats' 74-71 upset victory over the #6-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in Bramlage Coliseum Saturday evening.

Though he has yet to record an official stat for the men’s basketball team, Justin Edwards is already receiving the type of praise that would normally be paired with a fifth-year senior.

“He’s probably the most athletic player I’ve ever played with,” senior forward Nino Williams said Wednesday at K-State Basketball Media Day. “I think he is going to surprise a lot of people and our own fans that haven’t heard much about him yet. I personally think him and Marcus (Foster) will be our leading scorers this season. I’ve never seen anyone live in practice like Justin. I think he will bring a lot of excitement to the team.”

Edwards amassed 887 points in his two years at the University of Maine and sat out last year per NCAA rules, but is ready to make an instant impact for a K-State team with high expectations this season.

“I’m extremely anxious,” Edwards said. “It’s tough sitting out a whole year and just only being able to practice and not see any game action. I’m excited to go out and show people what I can do and have fun with my teammates.”

The 6-foot-4-inch guard traveled alongside fellow K-State transfer Brandon Bolden to Latvia and Lithuania this summer with Athletes in Action, a Christian-based organization that uses the sport as a ministry platform, to compete against various club and professional teams.

Edwards led the American squad to a 3-1 record with 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during the tour. He was the leading scorer in three of the team’s four games, recording a tour-high 23 points on 52 percent shooting against University of Latvia.

The experience was Edwards’ first bit of competitive basketball since leaving Maine after the 2012-13 season. He spent the majority of last season in a practice jersey, learning head coach Bruce Weber’s system and how to acclimate to a more competitive atmosphere.

“I’ve learned the level of competition is way higher (at K-State),” Edwards said. “Always having to be aware on defense or else you will be exposed. You absolutely can’t take any plays off, you always have to compete. Everyone is good and there are no bums on the court.”

From what has been said thus far, Edwards has fit into the K-State picture quite well. Sophomore guard Marcus Foster has said multiple times that he believes Edwards will lead the team in scoring. Senior forward Thomas Gipson added that he will relieve some of the pressure and attention other players are used to receiving.

Not one to brag about his skills, Edwards kept his outlook on what the team can achieve. However, he did offer fans a quick glance what they can expect from him in 2014-15.

“(Laughing) Lots of dunks, people say I like to dunk and they aren’t wrong,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, a lot of exciting plays, as well as block some shots and make some threes. I want to bring a lot of excitement and energy into Bramlage.”

His coach agrees.

“He can get to the basket,” Weber said at Big 12 Media Days in Kansas City. “He’ll – I promise you one thing, he’ll have some dunks that we’ll get on ESPN.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:50 a.m., Oct. 23 to reflect updated information.