Kyler Edwards is now one of the Texas Tech basketball program’s most experienced players and in 2020-21, he has to be better in some critical areas.
It was just over a year ago that true freshman Kyler Edwards was pouring in 12 big points in the 2019 National Title game. Now, all of a sudden, he’s one of the Texas Tech basketball program’s most experienced players.
In fact, in regard to playing in Chris Beard’s system, the Arlington, Texas native is by far the most experienced player the Red Raiders have. With last month’s departure of Davide Moretti, Edwards is now the only player on the roster with more than one season playing for Beard.
Overall, Edwards now has 69 games of experience with Texas Tech. Thanks to this season, in which he started every game, 31 of those games are starts.
But you could argue that this past season, he did not make the type of jump that we had hoped. It wasn’t that Edwards was poor. He scored 11.4 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and handed out 3.1 assists per game. However, most of his gains in those categories were simply a result of the fact that his playing time essentially doubled.
A look at Edwards’ per-40-minutes stats shows that he was only slightly better as a sophomore. Using that evaluation metric, his scoring improved just 1.4 points per 40 minutes from 12.3 to 13.7. Meanwhile, his rebounds fell from 5.0 to 4.8 and his steals went from 1.4 to 1.1.
The 6-foot-4 guard is important to Texas Tech because in an era when it seems like almost every high school recruit Beard brings to the South Plains is destined to leave the program for the professional ranks or to be churned and processed out for better talent, four-year players are a rarity. That’s what Edwards appears to be.
However, some now look at four-year college players in a bit of a negative light. They believe that talents who are truly game-changers are too good to stay on campus until their eligibility is exhausted. Those people might suggest that Edwards has essentially become what he’s destined to be.
I don’t agree with that. There are enough examples of Edwards taking over games to show us that he’s far from being the best player he can be.
It’s tough not to think back to a pair of games in January and not salivate over what Edwards has the potential to become. In back-to-back wins over Kansas State and Iowa State, he averaged 23 points and shot a ridiculous 80% from 3-point range.
Most notably was the Kansas State game. Yes, KSU was one of the worst teams in the Big 12 this year but in Manhattan, they are always tough. And in the second half of this year’s meeting inside Bramlage Coliseum, a 77-63 win, the Red Raiders were in a fight for their lives.
Down the stretch, Beard repeatedly put Edwards in pick-and-roll situations with T.J. Holyfield and the sophomore guard took over. The result was that in a 3-minute stretch, he scored seven of the nine points Tech put on the board and that was the run that gave the Red Raiders some much-needed breathing room.
But too often this past season, the Red Raiders saw Edwards disappear. He had 14 games with fewer than 10 points, far too many for a player that took as many shots (9.9 per game) as he did.
Those disappearing acts came in some of the season’s most marquee games. Against Kansas in Lubbock, Edwards gave his team just three points while against both Texas and West Virginia in Lubbock, he scored a mere five points in each contest.
Without question, there are areas of improvement for Edwards in 2020-21. So let’s look at what he needs to do in order to take the next step towards becoming the type of player that he’s shown plenty of flashes of being.