Q/A with 2022 four-star BJ Edwards
Tell me about where you grew up.
I grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee. It’s a very laid back place. I feel like everyone knows everyone there but just like every other city, there are the haters, the people that don’t make the right choices, and then the guys who want to succeed and get somewhere in life. I was the one who wanted to get somewhere. I’ve always been good growing up, never got in trouble or anything but sometimes I would hang with the wrong crowd and people who didn’t have the same goals as me which is very hard to make it out. Don’t get me wrong, some of my friends were all trying to play somewhere big in college and pursue a professional dream but it was very hard to do so in a small town without recognition so my mom and I decided to move to Knoxville, Tennessee which has a little more buzz and is more known around the world to help me get to where I am now.
Was basketball always a priority in your household? Who put the ball in your hands?
I wouldn’t say basketball was a priority growing up. I was an 3 sport athlete playing football, basketball and baseball. I just had a passion for football growing up. I remember my first practice going out to play flag football and coach had me and my cousin playing lineman and I was not excited about that at all. So after practice I told my mom I’m quitting the team, I don’t want to play and I don’t like my position. She said “I already paid this money. You will finish this season out, whether you like it or not and I’m not raising you to be a quitter so if you quit on the team now, you will eventually quit in life.“ I still remember that till this day and it was a great lesson. Later on that season, I played running back and scored many touchdowns and we won the flag championship.
I would say my dad grandpa and uncle all had something to do with putting the ball in my hands. Growing up my mom and dad were divorced so when I was younger so I wasn’t with my dad everyday but he was always in my life and when he would visit we would always be doing something with a ball. My uncle, I was with almost everyday. I lived with him at my grandmothers house. We would throw football outside and play horse on the hoop. It was always something involving a sport. My grandpa would do anything for me growing up. He even built a full court basketball with 2 goals in the driveway. Anything I wanted, he would get so his role was major as well.
When did you start taking the sport seriously?
I have always took sports seriously when I was younger, just from how competitive I am and how much I love to win. My 8th grade summer for AAU, I was offered a division 1 scholarship to South Alabama so that’s what really made me sit down and think to myself I have to take this serious and that’s also when I cut out football and cut out baseball and really really started focusing on basketball.
Any family members/relatives that played college/pro sports?
Family members on my moms side that played were my cousins, Shane and Rob Williams. I believe Rob played at Oak Hill his senior season and then went to Tennessee for college. I’m not sure where Shane went. On my dad's side, Lorenzo Edwards. He played football for Florida back when Tim Tebow was playing. Then few years later, Lexton Edwards, Lorenzo's younger brother, walked and played basketball for the Florida Gators as well. I remember going to watch Florida play when he was on the team against Florida state when they had Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley. My father, Brian Edwards, played college football at East Tennessee State University as running back, which happens to be where he met my mother. He was a great college player and went on to play in the NFL with several teams such as Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills. Not many people know about him due to his short career because of an crucial injury.
Describe your game in a sentence or two.
My game is all around, I feel like it goes off of how someone is guarding me. You back off, I’m going to shoot, you press up, I will blow by. If my teammate is open, I will find him and create easy shots for them.
What does the game of basketball mean to you? In other words, why does it mean so much to you?
This game of basketball means the world to me honestly. It’s taken me so many places across the county and has brought so many new people into my life. Without basketball I am nothing. I feel like just being in a gym, getting shots up is fun, working out is fun, anything involving this ball is fun to me. It’s a hobby, it’s just not something I take for granted. I wouldn’t know where I would be without it.
How do you feel about your current ranking?
I definitely feel as if I should be higher. I have played against some guys that are higher than me and I constantly ask myself what does he do that I can’t and what do they see in him that they don’t see in me. I just look at it as motivation and everyone has their own opinion.
Tell me your general thoughts on rankings. Do they matter? If so, how much do they matter in the whole scheme of things?
They are good in some cases because if you're at that number 1 spot, you know a target is on your back and someone is trying to work as hard as you everyday. And even if you're not ranked, you may feel as if it’s disrespect so it pushes you to go harder so honestly it’s a win- win for me I don’t pay attention to it but there is nothing wrong. It can only make you better and work harder.
Do you have a current list of schools you’re focused on?
My list - Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech.
During the recruiting process, does it make a difference how often the head coach reaches out to you (texts/calls)? Does it make you feel that much of a priority?
Yeah I definitely feel as if when you're talking to the main guy that runs things, it really makes you feel better about that school and better about how bad they want you but talking to assistants is just as good too.
What advice would you give to a college coach in order to do an effective way of recruiting you in the “COVID era”? Any tips or pointers for them to stand out amongst all the other coaches in your phone?
Some advice I would give coaches is just try to watch film and just believe that the guy they're recruiting is going hard every day and getting better, because some guys can’t even play now in some states because of covid so it’s different for everyone. But for me personally, just sending the coaches links to games and the film and them giving me feedback is really helpful for me.
Do you have someone to guide you through the recruiting process and show you the ropes? If so, who is that person and what advice have they given you?
Yes, Bobby Maze has really guided me through this recruiting. He’s just always been there for me since I first met him in 8th grade and no lie when I say this.. Everything he has told me to do up until this day, has helped me get to the next level. He told me I was going to get ranked, then I got ranked. He told me offers are going to start coming in, and then they came in. He persuaded me to come to Knox Catholic and play with Akeem and Tamba to win a championship, and then we won. It’s kind of crazy now that I think of it. I trust that man with a lot and he has played a big role in my life as a mentor and big brother feeling.
What is something you’ve already learned about the recruiting process that you would share with a younger brother/teammate?
Something about the recruiting process I would tell someone younger than me is to just be patient and it will come to you. Just stay in the gym and work everyday. Also, never hate on the next man especially if they are bringing in interest and offers for instance. If there on your team then those same colleges are watching, so take advantage of that. If you're playing against them, go out and go your hardest because someone is always watching.
What schools have you visited so far, either unofficially, officially or virtually?
Last year before covid, I visited Vanderbilt unofficially and Tennessee unofficially, when they played against Kentucky.
Are there any schools that are currently recruiting you that have not yet offered that you expect to offer you sometime in the near future?
Georgia. They are in my top 6 and they're very hot on me so I’m just waiting on that one honestly.
Name a few schools that aren’t recruiting you at all, that you would like to receive an offer from sometime in the future.
I feel like every school has seen me play and if they didn’t reach out, then it’s no hard feelings. I’m satisfied with these 6 schools.
Is building a stacked recruiting class, and bringing top talent in with you a priority?
Yes, building a stacked class for college is what me and some of my AAU teammates have thought about like Quante Berry and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. Our goal is to win the national championship.
Did you have a dream school growing up?
No, not really a dream school I would say but growing up I would watch Florida a lot because of my cousin Lexton Edwards and also watched Kentucky a lot. I liked the Harrison twins.
Let’s flash forward a few years. You get your first NBA paycheck. What’s the first three things you buy?
I would buy my grandma an new car my mom a house and I gotta get myself a custom chain straight from Johnny dang 🤣