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Edwards evolving as coach, teacher

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Greene Central boys' basketball coach Blue Edwards directs players during a game against D.H. Conley at J.H. Rose on Dec. 27, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, January 4, 2019

Blue Edwards has been involved in some level of coaching and mentoring, mainly in the AAU circuit, since he retired from professional basketball in 2001.

But even Edwards, who is widely regarded as the best hoopster ever to play at East Carolina, has learned new things this year in his first season as Greene Central High School’s head coach.

This is Edwards’ first time coaching in a scholastic setting. He was required to take an online coaches course during the summer to gain proper certification, which he said exceeded his expectations and proved to be valuable.

“I kind of went into that thinking that I know everything about basketball and what is this going to teach me, but it taught me so much and I was so enlightened because of it,” said Edwards, a 1984 Greene Central graduate who is an online facilitator for the school on campus in addition to his basketball duties. “One thing that was consistent in that whole film is that your role is to be a teacher and a coach. They are different things and there are different requirements, but they can be synonymous and can spill over.”

Edwards, who is second in the ECU record book in single-season and career scoring average, was picked 21st overall by the Utah Jazz in 1989 to become the Pirates’ first and only first-round pick in the NBA draft. He played 11 seasons in the league, recording a career-best 16.9 points per game for the Milwaukee Bucks in 1992-93.

His daughters, Britny and Whitny, both played women’s basketball for the Pirates.

Edwards and his Greene Central squad were the No. 2 seed last week for the Pitt County Christmas tournament at J.H. Rose and they took second place, falling to rival Farmville Central in overtime of the championship game.

“I am actually in Greenville a little more than you might think, just kind of passing through,” Edwards said. “No matter how long I’ve been gone, whenever I come in, there is a feeling of being home and I’m relaxed.”

The Rams have a 7-5 record, with all of the losses to either Farmville Central or 4-A powerhouse South Central. GC recorded a key win on Dec. 14 when it beat Kinston, 64-58.

Edwards took over a program that was built up in recent years by Charles Harris, a former South Central assistant coach and JV coach who now is the head coach at first-year school South Garner. The Rams posted a 26-2 record in 2017 and a year ago made it to the 2-A state championship game.

Seniors on this team include proven guards Hysaan Hudson and Donte Johnson, and talented 6-foot-7 forward Imajae Dodd.

“It’s something that I have acknowledged that (Edwards) has played at all levels and this is a very special opportunity for all of us,” said Dodd, who has signed to play collegiately at UNC Wilmington.

The former Pirate star said he is taking a year-to-year approach to his role, which he told Greene Central athletics director David Bryant and principal Patrick Greene before accepting the position.

“This has made me be a little more patient,” Edwards said. “I still have to push them to get through lackadaisical play and push them through drills that they don’t want to do and even boredom. All of that has helped me to have a little more patience and it also has helped shape the way that I teach and give them information.

“I certainly don’t want to say that I will be doing this 10 or 15 years from now, but who knows, maybe I will. As long as I can make an impact in somebody else’s life with what I am doing, then I’m going to be satisfied in doing it.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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