NBA Draft: Grizzlies select Purdue star Zach Edey with No. 9 overall pick

Zach Edey's draft stock surged throughout his NCAA tournament run and in the lead up to Wednesday's draft

After a dominant run throughout college basketball that hasn’t been seen in decades, Zach Edey is officially off the board.

The Memphis Grizzlies selected Edey with the No. 9 overall pick in the first round of the NBA Draft on Wednesday night. The 7-foot-4 Toronto native, who will be the tallest player selected in this year’s draft, is coming off his second consecutive season winning the national player of the year award and a national championship game run with Purdue earlier this spring.

The Grizzlies were eyeing a center with their first pick in the draft and were reportedly in negotiations to trade up for the No. 6 overall pick with the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. After that fell through, and UConn center Donovan Clingan then went No. 7 overall to the Portland Trail Blazers, Edey was the next-best option.

The two-time national player of the year is coming off a run to the national championship game with the Boilermakers earlier this spring.
The two-time national player of the year is coming off a run to the national championship game with the Boilermakers earlier this spring. (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Edey officially declared for the NBA Draft after Purdue fell to UConn in the national championship game. The 22-year-old had one season of eligibility left due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Purdue had long expected him to forgo that final year and make the jump to the league.

Behind Edey, Purdue has absolutely cruised through the Big Ten over the past two seasons. The Boilermakers earned back-to-back regular-season titles and two consecutive No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. While they were knocked out in the first round of the tournament in 2023 in historic fashion, the Boilermakers rallied perfectly to reach the Final Four and eventually the title game this past season. UConn, however, won its second straight title to end Edey’s run.

Edey averaged 25.2 points per game last season with the Boilermakers, which was the best output in the country. He also put up 12.2 rebounds, which trailed only Akron’s Enrique Freeman, and 2.2 blocks per game. He was the first to win consecutive national player of the year awards since Ralph Sampson won three straight from 1981-83.

While he was consistently one of the best players in the country throughout his college career, Edey’s draft prospects were hard to lock down. Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek had him going No. 31 overall in the second round in her first mock draft after the NCAA tournament ended. By Tuesday, however, Edey was pushing lottery pick status. He’s clearly impressed scouts both throughout the NCAA tournament and the draft combine.

Edey has only improved throughout, especially in recent months. He’s proven he’s more than just a big man to anchor the defense and dominate inside. While it may take him some time to transition at the next level, the Grizzlies are betting that Edey will keep trending up. Based on his career so far, that's a pretty safe bet.