The Pac-12 gives a freshman of the week award in women's basketball, an honor conveyed via a news release with no trophy or certificate. That's just as well. Utah's Dre'Una Edwards probably would lose it.
The Ute forward already has won four weekly awards, contributing to her team’s domination of the honor. Edwards, guard Dru Gylten and forward Andrea Torres have been recognize a combined seven times in 10 weeks, topping the six awards for Ute gymnast MyKayla Skinner in 2017 in a shorter season. With seven weeks remaining in the regular season, Utah easily should top California’s Pac-12 record of eight women’s basketball freshman of the week awards — all won by Kristine Onigwe in 2015-16.
Utah's freshmen have contributed to a 15-1 record (4-1 Pac-12) entering Friday's game vs. Colorado at the Huntsman Center. Ute coach Lynne Roberts credits them with “jumping that learning curve a little quicker than normal.”
Well, mostly. Edwards is precocious on the court, averaging 12.8 points and 8.0 rebounds with a relentless, aggressive style. Wearing braces on her teeth and having turned 18 only last month, she shows signs of her youth off the court by losing stuff – some, more important than others.
So when Edwards collected another Pac-12 award Monday, Roberts kidded her via Twitter, listing various things she forgets and adding, “but she didn’t forget her game this weekend.”
COLORADO AT UTAH
When • Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Mountain.
Edwards wondered why she suddenly got so many notifications. “I was just laughing so hard,” Edwards said. “I was like, dang, she just put my business out there. Put me on blast in front of everybody. It was just fun. I love that we can joke about it.”
“Oh, God bless her,” Roberts said in her weekly news conference. “She's a fun kid and she can take a public tease like that. She's just forgetful. We leave a room as a team … you can put a hundred bucks down that every day, Dre has left something in the room.”
It was less funny in mid-December when Edwards lost her copy of the scouting report the players received in advance of playing Weber State. That's almost unforgivable; coaches don't want anyone else learning the secrets of preparation that could be used against them.
So even though Edwards posted 19 points and 12 rebounds in a 77-56 win over the Wildcats, Roberts responded by making the entire team practice one day without a basketball. Edwards' leaving behind shoes, a sweatshirt and a jacket were acceptable, compared with that mistake.
“I still don’t know where that is, to this day,” Edwards said Wednesday, acknowledging her absent-minded nature.
What’s clear is Utah’s freshmen are teaming with seniors Megan Huff and Erika Bean to give the team a genuine chance of finishing in the top tier of the Pac-12 for the first time and making the NCAA Tournament field. As a redshirt freshman, having sat out last season with the knee injury she sustained in high school, Gylten is averaging 7.6 points and 6.2 assists. She’s a two-time freshman of the week and Torres earned an award after Utah’s Pac-12 opener at Colorado, where she suddenly scored 18 points.
The conference's top teams are loaded with experienced players, partly explaining Utah's near monopoly of the freshman awards. Yet the Ute newcomers have answered any questions about how they would adjust this season.
Roberts wondered how the 6-foot-2 Edwards would do inside against taller players, and she has thrived. Any issue with Gylten's knee has become a “non-variable,” Roberts said. “She's fearless.” And Torres is a part of an eight-player rotation, shortened by the loss of senior Daneesha Provo to a season-ending knee injury.
The Utes' schedule will get tougher next week. Even so, amid their star freshman’s forgetfulness, they’re making this season memorable.