One of college basketball’s biggest stars has eschewed the NBA to play another season in the NCAA.
Purdue center Zach Edey announced on Wednesday that he would be withdrawing his name from the 2023 NBA Draft pool in order to retain his college eligibility. He had until 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday to decide whether to return to school or officially be a part of the draft.
He left little doubt that he would be returning to the Boilermakers in a late-night tweet.
Edey is fresh off a campaign that saw him win the National Player of the Year while starring for the Boilermakers. The 7-4 sophomore averaged 22.9 points and 12.9 rebounds per game while shooting a whopping 60.7 percent from the field.
So, why did Edey elect to return to Purdue after his stellar season? The Sporting News breaks down the big man’s draft decision as he puts off a leap to the next level for at least one more season.
Why did Zach Edey withdraw from the 2023 NBA Draft?
There are likely a few reasons that Edey withdrew from the 2023 NBA Draft, but the most important among them is that there was no guarantee that he would be drafted.
While Edey has elite size at 7-4 with a wingspan of 7-10, there are questions about his overall athletic ability. That will make some talent evaluators wonder if the Canadian’s game will translate to the next level, as he will have to square off against bigger, faster, stronger players in the NBA.
Certainly, Edey will eventually get a chance to compete for an NBA roster spot because of his size alone. But if he isn’t guaranteed to be drafted — or at least has only a second-round ceiling at best — he can afford to wait another year and try to improve his draft stock.
Besides, Edey has some unfinished business. He led Purdue to the top of a crowded Big Ten and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament thanks to his strong season, but the team was shockingly defeated by 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of March Madness. That marked one of the most stunning upsets in the history of the sport.
Edey won’t want that to be the lasting memory of his college career, so it would behoove him to give it one more go with a Boilermakers roster that is returning five starters from last season.
Zach Edey NIL earnings
Of course, it also helps that Edey can take advantage of the NIL offerings that will be available to him upon his return to Purdue. So, he won’t be missing out on too much financially by pushing his jump to the NBA at least one year into the future.
On3.com estimates that Edey’s NIL valuation is worth $827,000. That makes him the sixth-highest-paid player in college basketball and the 37th-ranked player by On3 across all sports. And given that he won National Player of the Year and that Purdue should be good once again for the 2023-24 season, he may be able to milk even more from his endorsement deals.
Certainly, these earnings provide Edey with the advantage and incentive that other fringe prospects wouldn’t have had in the past. As such, it’s easy to see why he opted to return to school as he continues to prove that he deserves a chance to succeed in the NBA.
Zach Edey draft projection
Sporting News’ Kyle Irving wrote in a scouting report of Edey in March that he would likely receive a second-round grade ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft.
As Irving detailed, Edey has the size and skill set needed to be a low-post threat, and his size could allow him to become a role player at the next level. He comes with some concerns that are related to his size and lack of a fully developed skill set on offense.
Edey’s biggest strength is also his most glaring weakness. He’s so big that it is almost impossible to be as mobile as he would need to be to excel at the next level.
On defense, he’s not quick enough laterally to keep up with the athletes in the league. With NBA spacing, he would be played off the floor as a frequent target in pick-and-rolls. He’s not versatile for switchy NBA schemes and even in drop coverage, 3-point and midrange shooters would have a field day.
On offense, teams will force him to his weaker left hand and he’s a non-shooter away from the rim. In three college seasons, Edey has attempted zero 3-pointers. According to InStat, he’s only taken one single shot outside the paint or block. Someone his size shouldn’t have to step away from the basket in the first place, but developing his left-handed hook shot would be vital.
All that’s to say that it’s easy to understand why Edey decided to return to school. Some extra development could benefit him and give him a better chance of finding success in the NBA, especially if he can develop that left-handed hook shot and improve as a passer.