Several players over the many years of the NCAA Tournament use the month to introduce themselves to a national audience, and more importantly NBA scouts. There’s Stephen Curry at Davidson in 2008, or Glen Rice at Michigan in 1989.
Purdue’s Carsen Edwards is having that kind of tournament this year. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound guard has scored at least 20 points in each of the first 3 games of March Madness. He first ripped apart defending national champion Villanova with 42 points (9-of-16 from behind the arc) in the second round.
Next, he pulled the Boilermakers into the Elite 8, hitting the 2 free throws in the final seconds to force overtime against No. 2 seed Tennessee. He finished with a game-high 29 points to punch Purdue’s first regional final appearance since 2000.
Edwards is averaging 23.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3 assists a contest for Matt Painter’s Boilermakers, who face No. 1 Virginia for a chance at the program’s first Final Four since 1980 (8:49 p.m. EST, TBS).
With such production, he’s shooting up NBA Draft boards, some of which place him in the first round. Let’s look at his projections, mock drafts and stock.
Carsen Edwards Draft Projections & Mock Drafts
Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype says his performance has boosted his draft stock into the late first round.
Known mostly as a volume scorer, he has looked significantly more efficient and showed an improved shot selection during March Madness. If he can continue to play at this level, improve his playmaking and do well during the pre-draft process, there is plenty of reason to believe a team would take a chance on him in the first round.
Kalbrosky aggregates 5 different mocks from Bleacher Report, SI.com, ESPN, The Athletic and NBA Draft. He shows Edwards as his No. 39 player, with all but Bleacher Report fitting him on their lists.
Jeremy Woo of SI.com places him as an early second-rounder at No. 34 overall. He raves about his instant-offense potential.
For two years now, Edwards has been the driving force behind overachieving Purdue teams that relied heavily on his scoring gifts. He can be a bit of a divisive prospect with his lack of positional height, but he‘s strong and explosive and can really make tough shots in tight spaces from the outside. Edwards should be afforded the room to consistently get his jumper off in spite of his height. His potential as a microwave scorer can’t be discounted, and while playmaking will never be the primary sell with him, some of his turnovers and mistakes are excusable based on how much time he spends with the ball in his hands. If Edwards can be a threat handling in screen situations as well as away from the ball, he should be able to maximize his chances of finding an NBA niche.
Aran Smith’s NBA Draft Net has the Philadelphia 76ers taking him at No. 44, pairing Edwards, an automatic outside shooter, with the slasher/distributor Ben Simmons.
ESPN’s Draft Board has him as the No. 7 point guard and No. 49 player overall, which means with a tournament bump he’s a potential early second-round pick.
Carsen Edwards Scouting Report
There’s some concern that Edwards fell into too many funks against good teams. Against Big Ten co-champion Michigan State, he scored just 14 and 11 points in each meeting (well below his averages).
However, that narrative doesn’t hold. He scored 24 points against the tree-like defense of Florida State, 40 against Texas (a top-20 defense per Kenpom) and 36 against the Wisconsin Badgers in the dreaded Kohl Center. Not to mention his tournament performances.
He’s just a damn good scorer, but he does hit his averages on high shot volume. He takes a whopping 37.3 percent of Purdue’s shots, which is 6th-most in the country. That leads to some underwhelming shooting percentages (43 percent from 2, just 33 percent from 3).
On the plus side, he’s a disciplined yet still-aggressive defender. He ranks nationally in steal rate, nabbing at least one a game. Even when taking risks, he commits just 2.3 fouls every 40 minutes.
If he keeps up his superior performance against Virginia, a top-5 efficiency defense per Ken Pomeroy, he could be due for an even bigger bump than he’s seen already. As it stands now, he’s either a late first-round flier or a decent value as a second-rounder.