Updated: 10:43 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011 | Posted: 1:16 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011

WSU-Miami game to hold special meaning to MU's Edwards Jr.

Edwards Jr. still trying to find his role as MU faces his dad’s former team.


WSU-Miami game to hold special meaning to MU's Edwards Jr. photo
Miami forward Bill Edwards elevates through the lane during the 66-60 loss to Xavier at the Cintas Center at Xavier University, Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
WSU-Miami game to hold special meaning to MU's Edwards Jr. photo
Bill Edwards, a former Wright State University basketball player, stands with his son, Bill Edwards, Jr.

By Kyle Nagel

Staff Writer

OXFORD — When Bill Edwards Jr. transferred from Penn State to Miami University to play basketball, he brought plenty of Wright State clothing to his new quarters.

“I have a Wright State green sweatsuit I wore when I first got on campus,” Edwards said this week in the quiet of a Miami meeting room. “I wore it to the library one time, and people said, ‘You can’t be wearing that around here.’

“I said, ‘It’s not because I’m playing for Wright State. It’s because of my dad.’ ”

Edwards’ father, Bill, is widely considered the best basketball player in Wright State history, leaving the school in 1993 with scoring and rebounding records that still stand. The connection — with Bill Sr.’s Raiders legacy and Bill Jr. playing as a 6-foot-6 sophomore forward still defining his role with Miami — will make Saturday’s visit by WSU to Millet Hall special for the Edwards family and juicy for fans on both sides.

Bill Jr.’s relationship with Wright State goes back to his birth in the summer between his father’s sophomore and junior years at Wright State. A large photo hangs in the family home showing Bill Jr. playing with a basketball while Bill Sr. warms up for a WSU game.

When Bill Sr. got on the court, he produced numbers since unseen for the Raiders. In his four-year career from 1989-93, Edwards scored 2,303 points and grabbed 907 rebounds, averages of 20.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game over four seasons. Even more important was the period when Edwards played. Wright State was a third-year Division I program when he arrived, opened the Nutter Center during his sophomore season and made its first NCAA tournament appearance when he was a senior averaging 25.2 points and 9.6 rebounds. His No. 42 is the only basketball number retired at WSU.

Edwards went on to play 12 professional seasons in Italy, Greece, Germany, France, Spain, Israel and Korea and now owns a reception hall and rental properties in Middletown.

Bill Jr. starred at Middletown High School, first dreaming of playing quarterback in college before breaking an ankle as the backup his sophomore season. As a basketball senior, he averaged 17.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

Many in the Wright State community dreamed of Bill Jr. playing for the Raiders, but he chose Penn State, where he started five times in 26 games and averaged 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds as a freshman in 2009-10 before sitting out last season as a transfer. Looking back, he said, the transfer process happened quickly, and he might have considered Wright State further if he had more time.

“I don’t think I really took all the things into consideration as far as Wright State,” Bill Jr. said. “Nothing against them or anything like that. It was just a quick decision.”

He started his Miami career in November with 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in a win against Dayton, and he followed that with 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in a six-point loss to Xavier.

In the four games since, he has averaged 3.0 points and 4.5 rebounds, including scoreless outings in the past two games while trying to find his role with the RedHawks. It’s a good time, Miami coach Charlie Coles said, for the emotional Wright State game to arrive.

“If he’s a competitor, he’ll want to play in that game,” Coles said. “And, if that’s the case, he’ll work his butt off this week.”

Coles remembers coaching against Bill Sr., as his then-Central Michigan team lost to Wright State on a last-second shot in December 1989 before crushing the Raiders 112-85 the next season. Now Coles is coaching Bill Jr., although many say Edwards’ other son, Middletown sophomore Vince, more resembles his father on the court.

“Vincent always told me when he was young that he would go to Wright State and break all my records,” Bill Sr. laughed this week, although his younger son already has scholarship offers from colleges such as Dayton, Purdue and West Virginia.

“Like me, he never cared where the coach played him. Junior didn’t want to post up; he wanted to be an outside player.”

That was a small issue when Bill Sr. coached Bill Jr. as a youth, but the only disagreement between the two this week seemed to be about the father’s wardrobe for Saturday’s game.

Bill Jr.: “I’m pretty sure he’ll be in Miami stuff.”

Bill Sr.: “I’ll be wearing Wright State, that’s my alma mater. ... Well, I might wear a Miami T-shirt underneath.”

After all, even Bill Jr. once wore his family legacy Wright State green on the Miami campus.

Bill Edwards’ WSU records (1989-93):

  • 45 Points in a game, vs. Morehead State, Dec. 12, 1992
  • 757 Points in a season (25.2 ppg, 1992-93)
  • 2,303 Points in a career
  • 20.1 Career scoring average
  • 907 Rebounds in a career
  • 8.0 Career rebounding average