March Madness

Toronto’s Zach Edey might be the best-known college basketball player in the world

It’s a huge month for the also huge Toronto basketball player Zach Edey, who is playing in the NCAA March Madness championships right now.

With March Madness in full swing, a study to find out the top 10 most-searched-for college basketball players in the United States landed Toronto native Edey, 21, of the Purdue Boilermakers in the top spot, with 165,000 searches annually, topping the charts in 30 states.

The 7-foot-4 giant, who grew up in Leaside and attended Leaside High School, once played hockey for the Leaside Flames and baseball with Leaside Baseball. He didn’t start playing basketball until 2017 when he was in Grade 10. He was picked up by the Northern Kings basketball program, and after only six months, was recruited to play for Team Canada U17 men’s national team.

Even legendary basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, a former centre like Edey, recently recognized the phenom, joking that he is changing Edey’s name to “Zachille O’Neal.” The 21-year-old became the first player since Shaq in 1991 and 1992 to have more than 20 points and three blocks in three straight tournament games.

 

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Edey had 23 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks against Utah State on Sunday, pushing Purdue to reach the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA tournament. Purdue will face the Gonzaga Bulldogs this Friday in Detroit for a chance to make it into the Elite 8, so Edey will face off against another Canadian— Ryan Nembhard, of Aurora, who plays for the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Edey topped the Google chart by a wide margin. The second most searched-for basketball players, Arizona Wildcats’ Caleb Love and Hunter Dickinson of the Kansas Jayhawks, each only generated 74,000 searches this past year, and were each the most searched players in four states.

North Carolina Tar Heels’ Armando Bacot came in third place with 45,000 annual searches, while Justin Moore of the Villanova Wildcats came in fourth spot with 33,100 annual searches.

In fifth, sixth, and seventh spots are Reed Sheppard from the Kentucky Wildcats, Kyle Filipowski of the Duke Blue Devils, and Rob Dillingham of the Kentucky Wildcats, each with 27,100 annual searches.

The jury is still out on whether or not Edey has an NBA career ahead of him, but given his dominance this season and especially during March Madness thus far, there is little doubt he will at least be drafted, and likely in the first round. What he does from there will be up to him and how quickly he can adapt to the NBA game.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO