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Canyon grad Mike Edwards chasing dream

Posted: January 8, 2014 9:46 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2014 9:46 p.m.

Canyon graduate Mike Edwards plays for the Pee Dee Vipers professional basketball team.

 

Mike Edwards left the California Institute of Technology as the school’s all-time leading scorer in the history of its basketball program.

After Saturday, the Canyon High graduate can call himself the first professional basketball player to come out of the school.

Edwards, 23, signed a pro contract in December with a team known as the Pee Dee Vipers out of the Premier Basketball League.

He played his first game with the expansion team based out of Florence, S.C. on Saturday, coming off the bench to score four points and make two blocks.

The Vipers won the game 123-69 over the West Virginia Angels.

“It’s all kind of led up to this and now it’s kind of my turn to show what I’ve got and keep improving and to make an impact and learn a lot and have fun too,” said Edwards, who last winter finished his four-year career as Caltech’s career-leading scorer with 1,581 points.

Though he graduated from Caltech with a computer science degree, he wasn’t ready to call it quits on his basketball career.

Edwards made his way onto the Vipers after he attended a tryout held in Garden Grove this past summer.

Right around the same time, Edwards was trying to make the team for the Bakersfield Jam, part of the NBA’s Development League.

Bakersfield didn’t call him back, so a former Caltech assistant coach referred Edwards to a separate tryout for the PBL team. Afterward, the team flew him to South Carolina for a more extensive, seven-day tryout session in December.

On Dec. 23, just 11 days before the season opener, Edwards found out he made the 14-man roster.

The PBL is a small league that began play in 2008. Along with the Vipers, there are 11 teams in the league in their first year of existence.

The name “Pee Dee” refers to the region of northeast South Carolina where the team is located.

“It’s still an opportunity and all the guys are really cool and we’re really looking to do something special in this league,” Edwards said.

Edwards, who is 6-foot-7 and playing a wing/small forward position for the team, said he hopes this will be a stepping stone to a higher level of basketball.

He played nearly the entire fourth quarter of his pro debut during Saturday’s lopsided win. He drained 1-of-2 three-point attempts, added a free throw and he also held his ground on defense to take a charging foul.

“Getting in there was a lot of fun, just to play not against the same guys every day,” he said.

For now, Edwards said he’ll be coming off the bench and may not suit up for some games early on. League rules only allow 12 players to dress for home games and nine for away games.

But Edwards tries to remember what his father has always told him: “If you’ve got a jersey, you’ve got a chance.”

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