Basketball player

Former UConn men’s basketball player Gavin Edwards honored at Storrs

STORRS – Former UConn basketball player Gavin Edwards gathered with family and friends at the Gampel Pavilion on Thursday morning, crouching down to touch the Husky logo mid-court with his wife and two children before they all continued to out towards Hillside Road.

“All the great players that have played here, to have something like that, something that nobody can take away from you and something that you can always come back and watch, it’s really cool to be able to show my kids, ‘ That’s what Dad did,” Edwards said.

Edwards, 34, has made many memories and made basketball his life’s work in Japan, where he has played professionally for the past nine years, becoming a naturalized Japanese citizen and raising a family along the way. on the borders of two continents.

He lives in Funabashi, a city of about 650,000 people located 25 kilometers east of downtown Tokyo, 10 months a year, and in Arizona two months a year. Considering the monument was erected over the winter, just months after Edwards played for host Japan at the Olympics, he wanted to pay a visit to UConn as part of the family’s summer. .

“It gives me such a good feeling to be back,” Edwards said. “I know in the grand scheme of things, that was not that long ago. But it seems almost a thousand years ago.

Edwards, 34, is entering the final year of a three-year contract with the Chiba Jets and 2022-23 could be his final season as a player. She and the children – her JJ, 5, and her daughter Maya, 3 – spend several months a year in Japan. The family is currently trying to find a home schooling situation for their stay there in the fall.

It’s been a rewarding, but complicated, basketball life.

So as Edwards walked around campus on Thursday, his first visit since the children were born, the experience wasn’t just about celebrating his Olympic achievement or having the kids highlight his name on the monument. It was also about remembering and acknowledging where and how he got his momentum in life – at Storrs, as a member of Jim Calhoun’s basketball program.

“He’s the most humble person I’ve ever met and he acts like it’s just playing with friends and that’s no big deal – but he’s done it with the Olympics too” , said Elle. “He could never have traveled or seen the world or become the person he is without basketball and UConn has also been pivotal in the man he has become. And his coach played a big part in that. I think that pushed him. He says he became who he is today thanks to UConn.

The last player added to UConn’s recruiting class in 2006, Edwards struggled to adapt but played 123 career games and was a key player on a Final Four team in 2009. As a senior in 2009-10, Edwards averaged 10.6 points and 6.5 rebounds. He finished his college career with 631 points and 420 rebounds, then played parts of seasons in Korea and Ukraine and returned to the United States for a year in the NBA developmental league.

Edwards, from Gilbert, Arizona, met Elle, who grew up in Chandler, Arizona, three weeks before he left for his first season in Japan.

“I had 21 days to convince him that he should be with me,” Elle said.

They married shortly after that season, in June 2014.

Much of the couple’s time on campus Thursday was spent with Elle holding hands with their son, JJ, 5, and with their daughter, Maya, 3, on Gavin’s shoulders. Edwards and his wife have been in Connecticut all week, staying at the Newtown home of one of Edwards’ closest friends, Kyle Lyddy, who was a student manager at UConn during Edwards’ time there. down.

Lyddy was joined by his wife, Emily, and one of their two sons, Griffin, 3. Six-month-old Gage Lyddy skipped the trip, but several other members of Lyddy’s family, all close to the Edwards family, were on hand. . In total, there was a group of about 15 people, including a few friends from the UConn days.

Edwards and Elle left their two children to search for Edwards’ name in the monument. A bunch of photos were taken. This rather informal “tour”, which included a walk through the Werth Champions Center, allowing Edwards to reconnect with assistant coach Tom Moore, was led by Mike Enright of UConn’s communications staff.

After Enright explained where the idea for the monument came from and the process that led to its unveiling (ahead of a UConn women’s game against Notre Dame), Lyddy made some comments, noting how much Edwards has accomplished since then. an average of just three points per game as a high schooler.

“Think about where I started, barely playing my freshman year, and then being able to come to a school like this, come to UConn, it’s crazy,” Edwards said. “And to get where I went, I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that’s where I would be. I’ve always believed in myself, but knowing that it’s gone this far is crazy.

After a few pictures, the kids saw the Husky Dog statue nearby. Moments later, Edwards cruised past Gampel again, toward the UConn Bookstore to “stock up” on UConn gear, recalling January 23, 2010, when a first Stanley Robinson dunk on a Jerome Dyson lob created the first eruption of one of the loudest crowds in UConn history.

This is by far his favorite memory of Gampel.

His favorite basketball memory? The Olympics are up for grabs, that’s for sure.

Edwards became a key national team player ahead of the Tokyo Games, held in July and August 2021. His wife and children were unable to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. 19. By the end of the Games, the family had spent eight months apart.

But it was the thrill of a career, part of its culmination. Edwards and Japan faced Spain, Slovenia and Argentina, losing all three games. Still, Edwards was able to play against some great players, including a few likely in their last Olympics – the Gasol Brothers, Pau and Marc, from Spain and Luis Scola from Argentina.

“Definitely a unique experience,” Edwards said.

He meant the Olympics, of course.

He could have talked about his career.

“It was amazing,” Elle said in the bookstore, UConn shirts draped over her arms. “He’s worked so hard to try and become the man he has become on and off the pitch. We’re very proud of the man he is off the pitch. But to see that come to life today , it’s a proud moment for everyone.

“He juggles everything well. When he’s home, and even when he’s not, I’ve never seen a more present dad. When he goes abroad, he FaceTimes every morning before going to school, and he bathes with us every night before going to bed. He is therefore as present there as he is here.

[email protected]; @ManthonyHearst