By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
UTSA post Trey Edmonds admitted Sunday afternoon that he didn’t have any major plans for New Year’s Eve. “Just going back to the crib,” he said. Which is just about the norm in his life, anyway.
With most of his time committed either to basketball practice or school, not much of any day remains for other interests.
In less than a year since he moved to San Antonio to join the Roadrunners, the native Coloradan acknowledged that, yes, he spends time with some friends that he’s made outside the team.
He said he likes to watch movies, and he also is a music fan, particularly a rapper by the name of “Babyface Ray.”
“The team makes fun of me for listening to him, because they really don’t like him,” Edmonds said with a laugh. “That’s my favorite, but I also listen to R&B sometimes. I got some country sometimes. I got hip hop, rap. I mix it up.”
Where Edmonds really mixes it up is on the basketball court, particularly in the painted area, which has pleased his teammates and coaches immensely.
In fact, the 6-foot-10, 255-pounder has emerged as one of the most pleasant surprises out of all the team’s incoming transfers leading into Tuesday night’s American Athletic Conference opener against the UAB Blazers.
“He’s better than we anticipated, for sure,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said.
For the last two years, he was a reserve and didn’t play much for Dixie State University, which has since been renamed as Utah Tech. This season, Edmonds has started all 13 games for the Roadrunners.
Given the opportunity, he has made the most of it, averaging college career bests of 8.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 21.1 minutes.
“We were extremely happy with what he has been able to do since he got here,” Henson said. “He works his tail off. He’s very conscientious. He’s coachable. Pretty high IQ player. Physically, just look at the guy, he’s just strong, and he has pretty good hands.”
Edmonds, a native of Aurora in the Denver area, said he enjoys living in San Antonio and attending UTSA.
“It’s been great,” he said. “When I was in the (transfer) portal, me and my dad came and visited here and we loved it. We came on one of the rainier days so it kind of reminded us of back home. The coaching staff made us feel great.”
UTSA announced Edmonds’ arrival in May, and he started school in June. Immediately, the UTSA front line looked better, with Edmonds joining 7-footer Carlton Linguard, Jr., and 6-10, 240-pound Massal Diouf.
“When we got here, we got straight to work,” he said. “Coach Henson introduced the vision he had for me on the team, what he wanted me to buy into, and I made the decision to come here.
“I think we have a special group. Everybody’s focused. Everybody’s locked in. Everybody takes care of their stuff off the court. Like in school, we handled our business this (past) semester. So, I’m proud of ’em.”
Making the decision to leave Utah Tech, located in St. George, Utah, was an easy one considering the numbers in the statistical record. As a freshman he played in 20 games and averaged about seven minutes. Last year, he played in 33 games, averaging nine minutes.
“Frustrating, for sure,” Edmonds said.
This season, he’s already played almost as many total minutes (275) in 13 games for the Roadrunners as he did all of last season for the Trailblazers (301). As a result, Edmonds is making progress.
He’s performing at a much higher level than his first two years in college, shooting a UTSA team-leading 58.6 percent from the field, including eight of 11 over his last two games.
“It’s beautiful to see that I’m growing so much here,” Edmonds said. “The coaches have a lot of trust in me. My teammates have trust in me. I love this team. We gel together on and off the court, amazingly. I couldn’t have made a better decision to come here.”
Edmonds said he sensed it would be a good situation for him when he made his campus visit.
“They only had a couple of people here at the time,” he said. “But seeing the stuff they had … With Carlton and Massal, the ball-handling they did every day, working on shooting jumpers every day, I thought, ‘This is a place where I could really improve my game.’ That was a grabbing point for me and my dad and my mother.”
Fred Edmonds, the UTSA post’s father, was a four-year standout for the University of Colorado Buffaloes in the 1990s. He played with Chauncey Billups on the 1996-97 Colorado team that reached the NCAA round of 32.
“Ever since we started this basketball dream, my dad has always put the idea in my head not to be boxed in,” Trey Edmonds said. “Like, ‘You can only do this, or you can only do that.’ He wants me to be able to expand my game in different areas. I feel like being here, that’s going to help me do that.
During the fall semester, Edmonds would work out with a group of players that would arrive with teammates to get in some shooting early in the morning. Combined with the official workout later in the day, he’s started to blossom.
“We’re working on a lot of areas of my game that I feel are really going to help me and my teammates be better this year, get that losing record to a winning one, and start to make something happen in the AAC.”
UAB (8-5) will come in Tuesday loaded with talent, including two 6-9 posts with one of them weighing 265 pounds and another 230. UTSA (6-7) lost three in a row recently but played well in its last outing, rolling past Prairie View A&M, 103-89.
“I feel like every day is an opportunity to grow, and I feel like, that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re coming in here, motivated to practice and feeling like every day (there) needs to be an improvement. And we know that we’re picked last in the AAC. We know that we’re not expected to do much.”
The latest numbers in the NCAA’s NET rankings support that very narrative. The Roadrunners are rated 290th out of 362 teams in Division I. They are rated last among the 14 teams in the AAC.
“We all have that chip on our shoulders,” Edmonds said. “But, with us, we constantly have to be reminded of that. Like, OK. Remember what we’re here for. Remember that. This is the reality of the situation.
“The reality is, we’re not supposed to be doing anything. A lot of people think we’re not even supposed to be in this conference.”
For UTSA to prove the skeptics wrong, a lot will need to go well. Leaders such as Linguard and Christian Tucker and Jordan Ivy-Curry must step up their games. Edmonds and the other newcomers to high-level D-I competition will need to continue to progress.
“I’m excited for us,” he said. “The AAC is a great conference (with) great teams. But I think the sky’s the limit for us. I think the only limits are the ones we put on ourselves … I actually believe we can make something happen in this conference.”