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Fighting Irish’s Edwards officially signs with UT

The KCHS senior makes good on his July 1 commitment before dozens of well-wishers 

By Dan McWilliams

BJ Edwards made it official Nov. 14 as the Knoxville Catholic High School standout point guard formally signed with the University of Tennessee basketball program.

The signing took place at B. Maze Elite AAU Basketball Club in Knoxville, a gym where BJ has trained over the years. Dozens of BJ’s family members and friends were on hand for the signing, and plenty of orange and white balloons made the new Vol feel at home.

“I’m very excited for today. A lot of my family are here today. I just thank them for coming out,” BJ said.

BJ is a 6-foot-3 four-star prospect in the class of 2022 who picked the Vols over Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. He announced July 1 that he would sign with the Vols.

Now heading into his senior season with the Fighting Irish, BJ won the Mr. Basketball Award for Division II, Class AA, as a junior in the 2020-21 season and led the Fighting Irish to the state semifinals. As a sophomore, BJ helped the Irish win their first-ever state championship.

As a junior, BJ averaged 19.9 points per game with a .522 field-goal percentage. He shot 74 percent from the free-throw line and recorded 7.04 rebounds, 5.08 assists, and 2.4 steals per game. He has scored more than 1,600 career points.

“The thing that really made me choose Tennessee was the coaching staff, I feel like, the way I fit into the system. It’s at home, so a lot of my friends and family can come [to games] as well,” BJ said. “My conversations [with Vol head coach Rick Barnes] were good, honest, nothing like sugarcoating or anything. He just told me I’m not going to start automatically. I’ve got to come in and work for my spot.”

Having family present for his signing was “very important,” BJ said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I’m blessed to have them in my life.”

With a career full of successes, BJ said the signing with Tennessee “is probably the biggest accomplishment in my life.”

KCHS has prepared him well for college, the senior pointed out.

“Catholic, as soon as I got there, they brought me in, it’s been family, they’ve done a lot for me and made me a better man today,” he said.

BJ talked about his goals for his senior season with the Fighting Irish.

“Individually, I feel like I can do everything,” he said. “I’m solid in everything but being more of a leader to my teammates this year—I definitely need to work on my leadership and encourage my teammates and not bring them down.”

Earlier on his signing day, he went to the Vols’ basketball game against visiting East Tennessee State University and witnessed a 94-62 win by the home team.

“It was a good atmosphere. I like it a lot. They played good and won the game by 20 or 30. I wished I could have gotten out there and played,” BJ said.

BJ’s high school head coach, Michael Hutchens, is pleased that his senior point guard is signing with Tennessee.

“It’s exciting. No. 1, he’s earned it, and he deserves it. I can’t wait to watch him over there. He’s going to do great things. It’s just exciting for all the work he’s put in, all the work late nights—it’s paying off for him,” Mr. Hutchens said.

For this season’s Fighting Irish, BJ “is going to provide the leadership and the experience that we need to reach our goal, which is obviously going to be the state finals,” Mr. Hutchens said.

As a point guard, BJ is a leader on the court, the KCHS head coach said.

“When we need something on the court, he’s there,” Mr. Hutchens added.

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