FOCUSED: From bench to star, NU senior has seen it all
There was a time in the not too distant past when Zane Edwards was just another face on the Nevada Union boys basketball team’s bench.
As last season’s understudy to all-leaguers Jon Sheets and Gary Daley, the then-junior guard found himself treading water in the deep end of the Miners’ depth chart.
“I’ve always felt that I was a pretty good basketball player. But last year I didn’t play too much,” said Edwards, who played sparingly on the freshman team, then not at all his sophomore year. “I knew I was a better player (than that).”
Thanks to a sweat-soaked off season as well as some intensive one-on-one instruction from Miners’ assistant Kevin Nelson, Edwards’ days as a backup are over.
Headed into Tuesday’s victory over Hiram Johnson (Sacramento), the 6-foot, 165-pound shooting guard led the team in points per game (11.5), total 3-point field goals (25), was tied with Jarad Van Matre for first in steals (29) and was second in both total 2-point field goals (62) and assists (41).
Edwards was a straight shooter in the second quarter Tuesday, drilling all six of his field-goal attempts for 14 of his 20 points.
“Over the summer, (coach Nelson) and I did a bunch of dribbling and defensive drills. He really helped me with my shot (too),” Edwards said. “If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I’d be half the player I am.”
NU head coach Jeff Dellis said Edwards’ rise to the top of the team’s stat sheet is nothing short of amazing.
“If (someone) would have told me last year that Zane was going to be playing as many minutes as he is this year, I would have said (they’d be) nuts,” Dellis said. “A lot of the credit is due him, certainly for the hard work he put in over the summer and in the off-season. He’s been just a thrill this year.”
A glance at NU’s scorebook speaks volumes of Edwards’ contributions on the offensive side of the ball.
The lefty has led the team in scoring seven times, including a career-high 20 points -which he matched Tuesday – in a 62-51 preseason win over Granada (Livermore), and has been second in scoring six more times.
“Zane’s biggest asset is his shooting. He’s always had the quickness and the ability to get to the basket,” Nelson said. “But last year, after he’d slash to the basket, he’d be forced to (attempt) a really tough shot.”
“This year, when he slashes to the basket, he stops and pulls up for the mid-range jumper. That’s something we really worked hard on over the summer,” Nelson added. “He’s been able to get six, eight, 10 points a game from that.”
Edwards, who has hit a 3-pointer in 14 games, including a career-best four treys in a 73-66 overtime loss to Grant (Sacramento) Jan. 28, said that aside from a few pre-game butterflies, he’s comfortable with his role as the team’s go-to player.
“Sometimes I feel a little bit nervous before games, but it gets less and less every game,” Edwards said. “I know my teammates are good players. If we work together (we can get it done).”
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EL DORADO — Nevada Union’s up and down season continued Friday night as the Miners struggled mightily in a 41-7 loss to the Union Mine Diamondbacks.