Player of year Zach Edey officially enters NBA draft

Zach Edey throws down alley-oop dunk over Donovan Clingan (0:16)

Purdue's Braden Smith lobs it to Zach Edey for a two-handed dunk over Donovan Clingan. (0:16)

Zach Edey, the consensus national player of the year and a projected lottery pick, has submitted paperwork to the league office making him eligible for the 2024 NBA draft, he told ESPN.

"I felt like it was time," Edey said. "I showed that I'm a physical presence on offense this season," Edey said. "I also showed I can play defense. I can guard in space, even defend guards."

A 7-foot-4 center from Canada, Edey is the No. 14 prospect in ESPN's draft projections. He's one of the most decorated players in college basketball history, the first to win unanimous National Player of the Year honors since Bill Walton in 1973. He led the nation in scoring at 24.9 points per game, and finished third in rebounding at 12.2.

Edey holds the all-time Purdue record by scoring more than 2,500 points and pulling down more than 1,300 rebounds, something that hasn't been done in college basketball since Lionel Simmons more than 30 years ago.

He led No. 1 seed Purdue to the national championship game, where he posted 37 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to UConn. That was the most points scored in the title game since Duke's Jack Givens in 1978. Edey's177 points in the NCAA tournament tied Bill Bradley for the second most, trailing only Michigan's Glen Rice in 1989.

In spite of all those accolades, Edey said there's more to his game that he will be able to show once in the NBA.

"What wins in college and the NBA are totally different," Edey said. "There are a lot of things I can do that people haven't seen yet. I was focusing on impacting winning at Purdue and simplifying my game. Every year I've taken steps forward and there's no reason I can't keep getting better."

"I needed to be on the floor at all times," Edey said. "I had to be careful about fouling. I'm a better passer than people give me credit for. I was always looking to score when I got the ball down low, but I can make plays out of different situations more than I was able to show this year."

Edey is relatively new to the game, starting to play basketball seriously as a high school sophomore in fall 2017 after mostly focusing on hockey and baseball. Edey said that's one of the reasons he still has a lot more room to grow in the coming years.

"I'm still learning the game," Edey said. "There were moments in practice at Purdue that I learned something basic, little stuff that maybe others were taught in sixth or seventh grade. I'm going to keep expanding my game and do things people haven't seen from me.

"Shooting is going to be a big thing in my workouts during the pre-draft process. Every day I'm getting the reps and my routine right to show off that part of my game."

Edey entered the 2023 NBA draft but elected to return to Purdue for his senior season. That move appeared to pay off in a major way as he's now a projected top-20 pick who can be selective with how he positions himself in the pre-draft process.

"The number doesn't matter," Edey said. "I'm focused on the teams that believe in me. I want to find a coaching staff that believes in me and what I can do."

The NBA draft will be held over two days in New York City on June 26 and 27. The first round will be conducted at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, followed by the second round the next day at ESPN's studio in lower Manhattan.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.