2024 NBA Draft scouting report: Zach Edey

Zach Edey is the best player in men's college basketball. Can he translate his success to the next level?

Zach Edey, Purdue
Zach Edey, Purdue / David Berding/GettyImages

We can stop the 'Zach Edey isn't even on draft boards' narrative, because he is. He has been all season. Now, with March Madness underway, the behemoth big man from Purdue has a chance to stake his claim as a first-round prospect. He is the best player in college basketball, but it's hard for some to picture his game translating to the next level.

Edey is a throwback to the golden age of bigs. He would've been the No. 1 pick a few decades ago. Listed at 7-foot-4 and north of 300 pounds, Edey is simply too large for most college defenders to adequately contain one-on-one. Once he has position in the post, it's curtains. He is the engine behind a No. 1 seed and he will soon be the two-time Naismith Player of the Year, in exceedingly exclusive company.

It's getting more and more difficult to deny the scale of Edey's production for the Boilermakers. He became the first player since 1995 to post 50+ points and 35+ rebounds in the opening weekend of March Madness. There are precious few points of comparison for Edey in today's NBA — Ivica Zubac? Boban Marjanovic? — but that might not matter. He could simply be good enough to break the mold, to chart a new course in the rapidly evolving NBA landscape.

Just know he is, without a doubt, rising up NBA Draft boards as we speak. All it takes is one team to believe in Edey's singular blend of brute force, feather-soft touch, and titanic rim protection.

Zach Edey NBA Draft bio

Height: 7-foot-4
Weight: 306 pounds
Birthdate: May 14, 2002
Postion: Center
Offensive Role: Post-Up Scorer, Interior Finisher
Defensive Role: Drop Coverage Rim Protector
Projected Draft Range: 15-40

NBA Draft highlights


Well... he's 7-foot-4.

It's a little simplistic, but at the end of the day, it's Edey's greatest advantage. He will enter virtually every game with the size and strength advantage. He's the rare center who can battle Joel Embiid blow-for-blow in the post. His ability to tango on the perimeter is less certain, but Edey can completely wall off the paint — on both ends.

Defensively, Edey won't have trouble coming by blocked shots (2.3 per game). He's a literally towering presence at the rim, equipped with a 7-foot-11 wingspan and sharp instincts. Edey lacks mobility in space, but he can still disrupt passing lanes or blow up pick-and-rolls with sheer size. He doesn't always need to be the quickest to recover because he takes up so much space in the paint. Edey is to the painted area what a lump of hair is to your shower drain. That thing is clogged.

He's also a naturally prolific rebounder. The art of rebounding tends to get overlooked in today's NBA, but Edey will supply textbook box-outs and win the majority of battles on the glass. He will end defensive possessions and extend offensive possessions. That is a useful trait, especially if he's going to be called upon for bursts of energy off the bench.

In terms of scoring, Edey should be able to translate his Purdue success to the next level. At least individually. He will face bigger, stronger, more athletic deterrents in the lane, but none that can realistically match him. He will also benefit from the improved spacing of NBA basketball. He'll have more cutters and shooters to dish to out of double teams. He'll have more room to maneuver around the post. We shouldn't ignore that; the conversation around Edey is how the NBA will make life more difficult, but some aspects of the league could realistically benefit Edey.

He can score with a simple bump of the shoulder and a dunk, but Edey has improved his footwork as a senior to supplement his feather-soft touch on in-between shots. He won't space the floor, but Edey can hit little floaters and hook shots. More often than not, even if the NBA, he'll be able to flip a shot over his defender without much problem. Even if he's not in prime position in the restricted area, Edey is a threat anywhere close to the basket.

That said, post-ups are outmoded in most NBA offenses. Edey has the versatility to adapt, however. He can set thundering screens, catch lobs, and seal off defenders on the roll. There's no reason to believe Edey won't work as a simple play-finisher on offense, rather than manning the offensive hub he does at Purdue.

On an elemental level, Edey still provides what NBA teams crave from the center postion. Size, shot-blocking, a vertical threat at the rim, effective screening, high-feel passing. It's fair to wonder if Edey will ever be more than a situational big, but in such a weak class, guaranteed situational value is nothing to scoff at.


The primary concerns with Edey lie on the defensive end. He has improved his agility over the years, but the speed and spacing of NBA offenses will test him. Edey doesn't move terribly well in space. Teams will try to pull him out of the paint and isolate him on the perimeter. How comfortably can he step up on pick-and-rolls? Can he stay on the floor against five-out offenses? Those are the questions NBA front offices will ask.

We are also talking about a senior. Edey will be 22.1 years old on draft night, three or four years older than many of his peers. He has polished his repertoire over the years and dominated at the college level, but Edey doesn't have a particularly high ceiling. The defensive limitations could very well keep him from starting-level impact, while the lack of perimeter skill on offense could be similarly restrictive. There is a place in the NBA for an elite play-finisher, rebounder, and shot-blocker, but again, teams could be hesitant to invest prime draft capital in a backup center.

Edey's game at Purdue simply does not have a place in today's league. Not unless he defies the odds and carves out a new niche. We just don't see post-up scorers hammering the restricted area over and over again. Even Joel Embiid had to face up and spend more time on the perimeter to reach his ceiling. Teams will go to Edey for easy buckets on the block, but he can't lead a team that way. Again, the ceiling feels invariably well-defined.

Not every college great can make it at the next level. Edey has earned the chance to compete for a regular role, but he faces an uphill battle, even with his unique physical gifts.

Final summary

It's impossible not to appreciate Zach Edey and this Purdue team. He's frustrating to watch at times — especially for opposing fanbases — but that is the hallmark of every great big. Edey bludgeons his way to foul calls, eviscerates mismatches on the block, and anchors his defense with aplomb. If the Boilermakers can finally make a deep run in March, it will be a fitting capstone to a historic career.

That said, the skepticism about Edey's NBA translation is warranted. He will absolutely provide value as an interior scorer and rim protector, but how far that value stretches in 2024 is open for debate. We have to wait and see. Edey is uniquely good at old-fashioned skills. I'm fairly certain he is better than Jahlil Okafor, but NBA teams could (wisely) opt to pursue more robust role player or starter potential with their first-round (or even early second-round) picks.

Edey is going to face a steep adjustment period with the pace and space of the NBA game. If he ultimately hits, it will be a great story. But, it's fair to be a smidge uncertain. We don't have to pretend like he is an undeniable NBA talent. The college game is a vastly different realm.