Former Syracuse center Jesse Edwards, ESPN's No. 3 player in the NCAA transfer portal, has committed to play at West Virginia next season, he told ESPN on Sunday.
"I felt it was time for a fresh start," Edwards said. "I needed a new environment to challenge myself in and I think West Virginia is just that. I've met some great people on my visit here and the campus looks amazing. This team could be something special."
The 6-foot-11 Edwards averaged 14.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.3 steals in 32.6 minutes for Syracuse last season, being named All-ACC Third Team and to the All-ACC Defensive Team as a redshirt junior.
He has one year of eligibility remaining for the Mountaineers with 95 collegiate games under his belt, making him one of the most battle-tested and proven commodities in the NCAA transfer portal. ESPN's Jeff Borzello slotted him third in his NCAA transfer portal rankings.
Edwards picked West Virginia over Kansas, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Michigan and others. After playing for Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim the past four years, Edwards will now be coached by another Hall of Fame member in Bob Huggins.
"It is a huge honor to be able to learn from and get to know not one but two legendary coaches," Edwards said. "I'll take their knowledge about the game and life with me for the rest of my life."
A native of Amsterdam, Edwards represented the Dutch national team at the FIBA Eurobasket last summer, going head-to-head with the likes of Nikola Jokic and Lauri Markkanen, giving him significant experience that ultimately helped him have a breakout year.
"Seeing what real pros play like prepped me in a way that was very helpful in my mental game," Edwards said. "It was a great learning experience going into last season and a lot of fun."
Spearheaded by the Country Roads Trust collective, founded by Forbes-listed billionaire Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick and former Mountaineers athletic director Oliver Luck, West Virginia has significantly increased its activity in the name, image and likeness (NIL) space, reeling in one of the transfer portal's top point guards in Arizona's Kerr Kriisa.
Edwards said that the NIL factor at West Virginia was "a bonus," but not the primary factor in his decision-making process.
"I mostly wanted to have a fresh start and a new challenge," Edwards said. "NIL isn't what I'm playing for. I didn't really want to get into this, but it doesn't seem that Syracuse as an organization is that into that. I'm not really sure what their plan is or what the school's idea is behind it. For me it was something that they couldn't offer in that way."
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.