Seton Hall men's basketball has not produced an NBA Draft pick going on 13 years now. The last two Pirates selected in a draft were Eddie Griffin and Samuel Dalembert, who were taken by the New Jersey Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers respectively in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft. Swingman Fuquan Edwin looks to end that streak on Thursday night in Brooklyn, New York where he is looking to be the first Pirate selection in over a decade.
It all started when he was recruited by at-the-time first year head coach Kevin Willard. Edwin was considered to be the new coach's most prized recruit going into the 2009-10 season, and came into college with a solid résumé that he accumulated at Paterson Catholic High School in Paterson, New Jersey. At the end of his senior year in 2010, he received the North Jersey Player of the Year Award and made First Team All-State. Edwin led his high school team to a 28-1 record while averaging 15.7 points per game as a senior. This culminated with a third straight Passaic County Tournament title in his high school career. In addition, Edwin was ranked No. 23 amongst small forwards by ESPN.com as a college prospect.
When he came to the Seton Hall Pirates, Coach Willard started Edwin right away and the coaches saw promise in him, particularly on the defensive end. Averaging 7.9 points per game and racking up only 37 steals were not as impressive, but his field goal percentage of 41.0 percent and his ability to defend the best opposing player for long stretches of games made fans optimistic.
During the next two seasons, Edwin turned into the team leader and the face of Pirate basketball. He had a career high 102 steals during his sophomore season, and then followed that up with a solid junior year that saw him average 16.5 points per game while shooting 44.0 percent from the field and a personal best 41.0 percent from behind the arc. Edwin went on to be named an Honorable Mention to the 2013 All-Big East team.
Injuries would unfortunately affect Edwin's last season in South Orange, but he still managed to play in 29 games while helping to lead The Hall to a semifinal appearance in the Big East Tournament for the first time since Griffin and Dalembert led the 2001 club on a deep conference tourney run.
Edwin's career will be defined by his defensive prowess and all-out play for a full 40 minutes every night he was on the floor. As far as numbers are concerned, Edwin has the record for most career steals in the history of the program with 295. However, the most important contribution that Edwin has given Seton Hall is being the stepping stone between a winning and losing period for the program. The recruiting class for next year is highly-touted and Edwin's solid career has helped draw those talented prospects to South Orange.
Going into the draft, Edwin is a big shooting guard at 6-foot-5 and 207 pounds and can also play the small forward position because of his height and long 6-foot-8 wingspan with an 8-foot-7 standing reach.
Normally, because of his length and athleticism, coupled with his slim frame, Edwin will play more as a big two guard instead of dealing with the more physical small forwards.
The bread and butter of Edwin's game is his overall defensive ability and the fact that he can guard the best offensive player on the opponent's team for the majority of play. He has the ability to close down quickly on perimeter shooters and also rebound on the defensive end. At Seton Hall, there was a shortage of good big men down low and that forced him to become a better overall rebounder on both ends of the floor.
Another positive that NBA fans will love is his attitude. Edwin always gives it 100 percent and does so in a very cool manner. He does not show much emotion on the floor and lets his play do the talking. In the big moments, he is not afraid to take the last shot and has made many big baskets in his Pirates career. One of his marquee moments was his three-point shot to cap off a fourth quarter comeback to beat the Villanova Wildcats during his junior season. The game seemed lost in the final seconds, but Edwin pressured the Wildcats on an inbounds play, helped to get the steal and then drained the three-pointer to win the game.
Fans will not forget that play for a long time in South Orange.
He may have most, if not all of the intangibles but when it comes to his offensive game Edwin is an average scorer. The pluses include his ability to get easy layups in transition off of steals and outlets off of defensive rebounds. Also he is very quick and can lead the break in an effective manner off of turnovers, most of which he causes. The Hall star has always shot well from the field, but his three-point shooting, especially this past season, was not always consistent. There were questions about a possible hand injury and Edwin only made 33 percent of his threes last year, his worst percentage since freshmen year.
Besides improving his shooting stroke, becoming more consistent is another attribute that the Paterson, New Jersey native needs to improve when it comes to offense. On the defensive end, there is not much to critique, but on offense there are some holes. Edwin on some nights will lead his team in scoring and then the next night fans will not remember if he even took a shot. Regardless, on the defensive end he is always there and could probably get two steals a night in his sleep. During his seasons at Seton Hall, there would be times when it seemed Edwin would get a steal every time he played.
Edwin has tried to model his game after retired San Antonio Spurs champion Bruce Bowen, and if he is able to make his jump shot on a consistent basis, he could become a very solid player like Bowen was. Teams who draft him right now can expect to get defense, passion, and a hunger to win. If the right team takes him, he may be their diamond in the rough.
For Seton Hall fans, seeing one of their own getting drafted will be enough to bring smiles to their faces.