Shaq Renames Purdue Big Man

March 27, 2024

When Shaq takes notice of a college player, you know something big is happening. Yes, we said “big” on purpose. March Madness is hot and getting hotter right now. Next up is the Sweet 16 round. One of the games features number one-ranked (in their division) Purdue vs. always-popular Gonzaga. 

One guy who will have his eyes on the game is our man Shaq, who’s loving the play of seven foot four Zach Edey. You know O’Neal loves his big men, and this guy has been putting up Shaq-like numbers so far in the tournament. 

On his Instagram account, Shaq posted a pic of Edey, and said he was officially (well, for Shaq, anyway) the young man’s name to “Zachille O’Neal.” Wow…high praise! And for good reason. Edey is the first player since O’Neal was on the court of LSU back in the 1991 and ’92 season to have more than 20 points and three blocks in three straight tournament games.

The Boilermakers beat Utah State in the Round of 32. In the game, the big man (Edey, that is) had 23 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Other big numbers: he’s officially the first player since Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to put up 50 points and 35 rebounds while shooting 65 percent through the first two games of the tournament. Edey had 30 points and 21 rebounds in the opener against Grambling State.

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Shaq isn’t the only one taking notice of Edey’s dominant play. His coach – who of course has seen him all year – also had nothing but praise. But at the same time, Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter said Edey actually was not getting enough respect. 

Painter: “Yeah, they just shouldn’t cover basketball.” Obviously a bit sarcastic, but still… “I think all coaches should take a test so they understand refereeing, and I think all referees should take a test so they understand coaching, and I think all journalists should have to take a basketball quiz or test.”

Next up, as we said, is the Sweet 16 matchup against Gonzaga, as the tournament moves to Detroit. Interestingly, the game is a full-on rematch of the Maui Invitational at the start of the season back in November. In that game, Purdue beat the Zags 73-63.

For the record, Edey is even taller than another big man making big waves in his rookie year in the NBA, Victor Wembanyama. So far this tournament, Edey has been awesome. Opening against Grambling State, he put up 30-points, 21-rebound, and three blocks in the 78-50 thrashing. Then on Sunday, he scored 23 points and had 14 rebounds and three blocks in another totally lopsided win over Utah State, 106-67.

Should be a great game against Gonzaga Friday night, with plenty of “sweet” action over the weekend. See what we did there….? 

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