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Edmundson ready to build hoops profile in East-West game

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Darius Edmundson is fleet of foot, and a gander at a typical regular-season stat line from his Southern Nash High varsity football team will reveal such.

One touch from scrimmage. Eighty yards. Touchdown.

But while Edmundson will bid for a career on the gridiron beginning at Louisburg College, he isn’t done with basketball — the sport that propelled him to 3-A Big East Conference Player of the Year as a senior and the 2019 Tom Ham Athlete of the Year as presented by The Wilson Times.

Once a spot opened up in the North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game via the withdrawal of Cary Panther Creek’s Justin McKoy (who has signed with Virginia but is in summer school), Edmundson was placed on the East roster from his designation as the first alternate.

Therefore, Edmundson will be reunited with Firebirds coach Robbie Kennedy, also the East’s head coach, for one more game on Monday at the Greensboro Coliseum. Edmundson will be the first boys player from the Firebirds to play in the game, while Kennedy is set to be the first Southern Nash boys coach to roam the sidelines.

The opportunity to play one more game against some of the state’s top players wasn’t something Edmundson had his eye on as he prepared for his freshman season in Louisburg. There, he’ll be a candidate to start at strong safety after often taking away one half of the field as a cornerback for the Firebirds. Edmundson enjoys the full blessing of the Louisburg coaching staff in participating.

“I never thought one bit about this game because I didn’t know this game existed, to be honest with you,” Edmundson said in a telephone interview. “I just thought somebody went straight to school, and that was it. But honestly, it’s a blessing. I’m grateful that they asked me to play. It just really shocked me and my family.”

As a senior, Edmundson was the engine behind Southern Nash’s guard-oriented offense. With an explosive first step off the dribble and the ability to get to the free-throw line, Edmundson led Southern Nash in scoring at 15.9 points per game and also led the team in rebounds with 8.7 retrievals per contest. He pestered opponents not only off penetration, but his penchant for grabbing offensive rebounds and getting fouled. His ball-handling helped the Firebirds dictate the pace late in games en route to a 16-10 record and an appearance in the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs.

“In my heart, playing basketball, I don’t think my love for the game will ever change,” Edmundson said. “My skill set, I don’t think that will ever change. I can go out right now and hoop with somebody right now and I’ll still outdo them. That’s how confident I am in my game.”

Kennedy anticipates no issue with the 6-foot-1 Edmundson keeping up talent-wise against the West’s offerings that include at least three players with Division I offers in Morganton Freedom’s Fletcher Abee (The Citadel), Hendersonville’s Ben Beeker (Furman) and Keyshawn Langley of Southwest Guilford (UNC Greensboro).

“He’ll be fine athletically,” Kennedy said of Edmundson. “He can run, he can jump, and the way all-star games are, he’ll be perfect in that situation.”

Edmundson won’t be devoid of talent surrounding him in Greensboro, as Greene Central’s Imajae Dodd and South Central’s Shykeim Phillips are among the East players who will make the trip. Both have signed with UNC Wilmington.

At Louisburg, Edmundson hasn’t ruled out giving basketball a try. But for now, he’s focused on building off the momentum of a transformative final year at Southern Nash.

“My senior year, I can’t really describe it,” he said. “I’m just really, really blessed. My mama talked to be about how my senior year was going to be my year, and it just happened to be my year. I believed what she said, and my senior year was the year. I really stood out among a lot of good basketball players in our area.”

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