Yes, Leasider Zach Edey is 7’3″, has a wing span of 7’7″, and wears a size 20 shoe. Sure, he stands out (and above) the crowd.
But what sets Edey apart from the crowd isn’t the fact he is playing basketball for Team Canada, but that he only started playing the sport six months before he was chosen to play with the national team.
If you follow sports, have a child playing sports, or are an athlete yourself, you’ll know that most people who “make it big,” start learning and practising their sport while they’re basically still in diapers.
But Edey isn’t “most people.”
Edey is a 16-year-old multi-sport athlete who has excelled in hockey, baseball, and now, basketball. He was, in fact, scouted by the University of Alabama for his pitching and all-round skills in baseball.
But while Edey loved playing AAA baseball, as he grew, so too did his strike zone. Frustration was felt by both the umpires calling the game, and Edey himself.
In the fall of 2017, Zach’s good friend Magnus Taylor was playing basketball for the North Toronto Huskies. Magnus’s dad and coach, Steve, approached Edey to see if he could lure him off the baseball field and onto the basketball court. Edey politely declined, but confident that he could win him over, Steve Taylor ordered an extra team shirt. Eventually Edey was won over and in October joined the Huskies where he learned the fundamentals of the game.
While playing in a local tournament Edey was spotted by a representative of the Northern Kings. A Toronto-based basketball program, the Kings recruits elite youth players and offers them the opportunity to gain outstanding training and exposure to university recruiters through play in multiple tournaments. Edey joined the program in March this year and was mentored by several coaches, including Vidal Massiah, who was twice the captain of the Canadian Men’s Senior Team.
With the exposure granted him by the Kings program, Edey was quickly spotted by, and recruited to, the U17 Canadian team.
If your head is spinning at this moment, let’s do a quick recap. Edey began playing basketball in October of 2017 and was recruited by Team Canada in April of 2018. As Edey himself says, “it’s been quite a ride!”
And this ride is only just beginning. By June this year, Edey had received his first NCAA offer from Tulane and this fall Edey was admitted to the prestigious IMG Academy in Florida. The school features an integrated academic and sports curriculum with a who’s who list of alumni in various college and professional sports.
Michael Meeks, a 2002 Canadian Olympian and an assistant coach with the U17 Canadian team, notes that Edey is “a great young talent,” adding that he is “extremely excited to watch (Edey) develop over the years to come.”
Also excited is Edey’s extremely supportive family. Brother Doug, also a skilled athlete currently at Leaside High School, as well as parents Julia and Glenn, are Zach’s biggest fans. Julia and Glenn have been actively involved in Zach’s sports over the years both as coaches and, as parents of kids in sport would well know, chauffeurs, cooks, cheerleaders, and more. The Edey family is close-knit. Julia remembers a much younger Zach promising to get a scholarship so she could retire early.
Edey’s attitude and lifestyle are impressive especially for a 16-year-old. He goes to bed early and eats well, noting that his only weakness is Mike and Ikes fruit chewies, a treat, he said, that he allowed himself after a tournament with Team Canada this summer. He analyzes his game and draws from his experiences in both hockey and baseball to “outthink my opponents.”
While he admits with a sheepish grin that the last time he was shorter than one of his teachers was in Grade 2, he’s so much more than just a tall kid with talent.
One of Edey’s coaches once remarked that his story is like a movie. It’s already been a thriller, an adventure, and a drama rolled into one. What’s next for this cinematic athletic star?