HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Doc Sadler got a call from Tevester Anderson in 2015. The former Jackson State basketball coach told Sadler he needed to check out this kid.
That kid was Cortez Edwards - a skinny, 6-foot-2 guard from Kissimmee, Florida whose only Division I offer at the time was from Tennessee Tech.
Edwards committed to Southern Miss after one visit to Hattiesburg.
“The night before I played my last high school game, one of the assistant coaches called me and said, ‘You got an offer from Southern Miss,’” Edwards said. “I thought it was a place I could be successful. I just committed, felt like it would be the right place for me.”
“In his situation, character was something we were really looking at at that particular time because we knew the kids were going to go through some tough times,” said Sadler, who inherited a USM program riddled with NCAA sanctions. “We didn’t want guys just coming and leaving and that type thing. We’re very fortunate that [Edwards] stayed all four years.”
Edwards first held a basketball at age five, idolizing players like Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady. Edwards’ Osceola High School is just 30 miles from McGrady’s Auburndale High School.
Sadler sees him as a natural. Edwards almost chose football.
“I started football first because [in] Florida we play football,” Edwards said. “I noticed I was kind of skinny. I was real skinny so in high school I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll be better at basketball.’”
“He’s one of those players that understands the game of basketball and that really helps him,” Sadler said. “You got to appreciate just a basketball player and I think that’s what Tez is.”
Basketball has worked out okay for Edwards. He’s only player in USM history to rank top 20 in scoring (1,375 points), top 15 in rebounding (624) and top 10 in assists (360).
Last week, he passed Curtis Green for the USM career steals record with 197.
“It means a lot of games because you only get like two steals a game if you’re good,” Edwards said. “Just being in the right spot and being opportunistic. And coach letting me do my thing and my teammates backing me up. Just having fun out there, playing hard.”
“Cortez has showed up each and every day that he’s been here in the four years,” Sadler said. “When he looks back on his career, he’s going to know that he maximized his opportunity and got great results, also.”