Fuquan Edwin left the NCAA ranks as a defensive specialist but has added some new wrinkles to his game after spending his rookie season in the NBA Development League.
Edwin played for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2014-15 and is the epitome of a “3-and-D” player at this stage of his career. He averaged 13.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game for the Miami Heat affiliate club, and shot a cool 40 percent from distance after having made 100 3-pointers on the season. He also solidified his reputation as a defensive stopper by taking home All-Defensive 1st Team honors.
After a strong showing in the Las Vegas Summer League with the Pelicans, Edwin signed a deal to play in Israel next season with Ironi Nes Ziona. However, his agent confirmed that he has an NBA out clause in his new contract, leaving the door open for a possible call-up to the big leagues.
Upside & Motor: You were selected in the 1st round of the D-League Draft and you spent your entire rookie season with Sioux Falls. How was the overall experience in the D-League?
Edwin: It was definitely good. I was in a really good situation and the guys we had all played together, and we were a real team. You hear both good and bad things from people about the D-League, but I had a great experience with Sioux Falls. Coach Phil Weber handled every individual on the team really well.
U&M: How did your game improve as the season went on?
Edwin: It improved a lot. I came in with a reputation as a defender, but at the beginning of the season I picked up a lot of silly fouls and the coaching staff really helped me with the mental aspect of defense. I just learned how to be more aware on the court. Coach helped with that a lot. He let me know early that if I wanted to stay on the court I couldn’t make silly mistakes like that. I give 100 percent no matter what so that will always be there, but I improved the mental side of the game for sure.
U&M: What advice would you give guys fresh out of college who are considering the NBA D-League?
Edwin: I would tell them it’s a long season with ups and downs, man. Sometimes you’re going to see your minutes fluctuate, especially when NBA players come to town on assignment, and that can be frustrating but you have to stay patient. Most players (including myself) only see their individual situation, but you learn to see the big picture and the importance of each thing happening.
U&M: Do you have any funny stories from your time with the guys in Sioux Falls?
Edwin: Umm, I don’t know about any specific stories but, man, we were always laughing and having fun. Henry Walker was a guy who always made everyone laugh. There are a lot of personalities on that team and it made it really fun. Scotty Hopson was another guy who was really funny.
U&M: This was your second chance at Summer League and you played a lot more this time around. What have you learned from each situation?
Edwin: Be a teammate. Everyone wants to play but you gotta always be a teammate. Always be prepared as well and when you get your chance you have to know your role. It’s easy to think “Man, I should be getting 20 shots a night, I should be starting” and that kind of thing, but you have to know your role and learn to compliment your teammates on the court.
U&M: Do you think it was helpful having Coach Weber as part of the Pelicans’ Summer League staff? (Side note: Phil Weber, now an assistant coach for the Pelicans, earned his own call-up of sorts)
Edwin: Definitely, it’s awesome. I’m comfortable and it’s a great situation working with someone I already know.
U&M: How does it feel getting this far in Summer League as the only team without NBA players (other than the D-League Select team)?
Edwin: It feels good. From the first practice I knew we would go far so I’m not surprised. We worked hard and really pushed each other. I’m guarding Seth Curry and we’re really pushing each other, man. I know that my tough defense is going to make him better in the long run and vice versa. I’m happy with how we’ve played.
Ed note: A couple hours after this interview the Pelicans lost to the Phoenix Suns in the semifinals.
U&M: You have signed a contract to play in Israel with Ironi Nes Ziona. First, congratulations. Second, how excited are you for the chance to complete at a high level in Europe?
Edwin: Thank you! I’m very excited. I’ve heard a ton about the league already and I’m ready. It’s funny one of my teammates at Seton Hall was from Israel and he used to always tell me I needed to come play over there. He would tell me how great Tel Aviv is and how great the players are and now I will get a chance to see for myself.
U&M: I know you played in Venezuela after the D-League season last year, but have you ever been to Europe? Are you anxious at all about being away from family?
Edwin: I was in Italy for three weeks, but came back so I didn’t get to experience Europe all that much. I’m ready and I’m all for it. With technology being so easy to use I can contact family whenever I need to, so I don’t think that will be problem. To be honest, I haven’t been “home” in 10 months. It’s all just part of the grind now.
U&M: What are your goals for the upcoming season in Israel?
Edwin: Honestly, man, my main goal is to help the team reach the championship. I’ve heard a lot about our team and other great teams in the league and I’m excited for the challenge. The other thing I want to do is really work on my body; bulk up a bit.