Purdue’s Zach Edey was named the men’s college basketball player of the year – by the Associated Press and the Naismith Award voters, among others – after a strong season. The 7-foot-4 center, a native of Toronto, averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks over 34 games. He was remarkably consistent, putting up double-doubles in 27 of those 34 contests.
But despite all of his individual success, the season has to be considered a disappointment as No. 1 seed Purdue was shocked in the first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament by No. 16 seed Farleigh Dickinson. It was a brutal March Madness loss that surely disappointed Edey’s Ontario sports betting backers.
That loss was extra tough, considering it came in the first round, but it is not uncommon for the Player of the Year to face disappointment in the NCAA Tournament.
Only nine times previously has the Naismith college player of the year won the national title, most recently by Jalen Brunson in 2018 and Anthony Davis in 2012. Bill Walton is the only man to have turned the trick twice, winning both in 1972 and 1973 for UCLA, a truly remarkable feat.
Winners of National Title and Naismith Player of the Year
Main Competition Also Taken Out Early
Purdue entered the NCAA Tournament at +1100 odds with BetMGM Ontario Sportsbook to win it all, but wound up being the second No. 1 seed to lose in the first round of the men's tournament.
Edey’s main competition for the award also saw their seasons end prematurely. Indiana's Trayce Jackson-Davis, Gonzaga's Drew Timme and Kansas' Jalen Wilson were all also nominated for the award. Of those teams, only Gonzaga made it to the Elite Eight, where the Bulldogs lost to Connecticut. Indiana and Kansas both failed to make it out of the second round.
Edey has been breaking ground for Canadian-born basketball players all season long. In addition to being a near-unanimous choice as the AP men’s college basketball player of the year and taking the Naismith Award, he was also a first-team All-American and Big Ten conference player of the year. Only two other Canadians have received men’s first team All-American nods before, and none have come close to being the player of the year.
While making history as a Canadian is one thing, making history and joining the likes of Brunson, Davis and Walton would have been much more rewarding considering the team success that those players helped achieve. It makes sense that the team with the best player would have the most success, but the fact that so few players have been both POY and national champion shows how much of a team game college basketball is. No one player can carry a team to victory.
The last two teams standing play for the NCAA Championship tonight as Connecticut, a 7-point favorite with Caesars Ontario Sportsbook, faces San Diego State.
Edey Could Try Again in 2023-24 Season
With another year of eligibility, Edey has yet to declare for the NBA draft. He has the option of coming back to college to take another run at a national championship. If he does, Purdue would once again be among the favorites to win it all at Ontario sportsbook apps.
Edey has already proven himself to be the best Canadian college player ever, but another year before declaring for the draft would give him more time to develop and become a more well-rounded player who doesn’t solely depend on his size. He has only been playing basketball seriously for a handful of years so he needs to develop more.
The lure of another chance at an NCAA championship might prove to be enough of a draw for him to return to the Boilermakers.
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Methodology: OntarioBets.com used World Sports Network and Sports-Reference to see which athletes were able to accomplish the rare feat of winning the Naismith Player of the Year and led his team to the NCAA Tournament title.