The answer to the title question, if we’re being honest, is probably Marcus Sasser. But the guard who was averaging 17.7 points and more than two steals per game hasn’t played since December and is done for the season because of a foot injury. That makes Houston’s run to the Sweet 16 all the more remarkable. Who is the Cougars best available player? Frontcourt players Josh Carlton and Fabian White deserve some consideration, but they don’t quite meet the standard that has been set by senior guard Kyler Edwards.
Houston’s best player: G Kyler Edwards
Edwards has really helped pick up the slack in the wake of Sasser and Tramon Mark’s season-ending injuries. Edwards is averaging a team-high 13.9 points per game. He is also second on the team in rebounds per game (6.0) and assists per game (3.2).
On the offensive end, Edwards is pretty easy to categorize: He’s a shooter. There is rarely a shot he won’t take. He led the American Athletic Conference in field-goal and 3-point attempts this year. However, there is a difference between shooter and scorer. Edwards is shooting just 37.5 percent from the field and 33.6 percent from deep. Two-thirds of his 417 attempts this season have come from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-4 Texas Tech transfer is a fierce rebounder, which is a prerequisite if you want to play for Kelvin Sampson at Houston. And even if he is having a bad shooting night, Edwards won’t let that affect his defense. He regularly takes on the opposing team’s best scorer and frustrates him. Case in point: He held UAB’s Jordan “Jelly” Walker, the Conference USA Player of the Year, to one 3-pointer on 10 attempts during Houston’s victory in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Edwards isn’t a special athlete and has a limited offensive skill set. At best, he looks like a prototypical 3-and-D guy at the NBA level. But for that to happen, he needs to further improve his shooting accuracy.