It's all on his shoulders
The 2011-2012 season for Dylan Edgar had its ups and downs. As the tallest member of the team at 6 feet 10 inches, he started 23 of 27 games for the Shippensburg University men’s basketball team. Edgar scored almost 10 points per game, while also leading the team in blocked shots.
The problem was, when the Raiders were in a close game in the fourth quarter, Edgar was usually seen sitting on the bench. Unfortunately, Edgar struggled from the foul line all season and head coach Dave Springer liked to go with a smaller line up during crunch time. Late in games, SU usually had only one player over 6 feet 2 inches on the court — senior Will Royal.
Royal, the leading scorer last season for the Raiders, has graduated along with Jordan Stasyszyn, Dane Lauber and Craig Van Scyoc — the other top three leading scorers last season.
That leaves Edgar, whose 9.7 points per game was fifth on the team, as one of only two juniors on the 2012-2013 edition of the men’s basketball team at SU. Springer has no seniors on his team for the first time since 2007.
Edgar has already been named the lone captain for a team that has not been given a chance to do much of anything — mostly due to the fact that only three players on the team played more than five minutes per game last season.
The Raiders have been picked to finish seventh of eight teams in the PSAC East preseason poll.
“That’s how it is every year,” Edgar said of the predictions. “We don’t pay attention to that. Our motto is ‘young and hungry’ and we know that we might be ranked last in the PSAC this year, but we’ve got a lot of talent. We do have seven freshmen, but at the same time, we’ve got a lot of guys returning and we’re talented.”
Point guard Reggie Charles (7.8 points per game, 121 assists) is the only other returning starter, while Sam Pygatt (6.0 points per game) averaged 16.4 minutes in 27 games last season.
Add in Akil Anderson’s 1.8 points per game and Philip Sasko’s 0.5 points per game and the Raiders have a grand total of 25.8 points per game returning from last season’s team.
Edgar knows that a lot of the scoring burden now lies on his shoulders.
“I mean, it pretty much makes me the No. 1 guy now that I’m the only captain,” Edgar said while sitting on a training bench near the Raiders’ home court at Heiges Field House, “I learned a lot from Will and all of them last year. I have help from Reggie because he developed a lot last year.
“I am the No.1guy and captain, but at the same time all of those younger guys have to step up too. That’s the biggest thing — how we do will depend on how fast our young guys can adjust to the game speed and playing at this level.”
Edgar has been impressive during the fall according to Springer, especially during the team’s trip to Canada from Oct. 13-16.
In the three games SU played against other schools that made the trip, Edgar averaged 19.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Those kinds of numbers would land Edgar on the All-PSAC team at the end of this season.
“[Edgar] has already proved that he is much more aggressive when it comes to scoring,” Springer said of Edgar’s play this fall, “Right now, he’s as confident as he’s been in his three years. He’s feeling really good about scoring. When we went up [to Canada], all three teams had a heck of a time trying to handle him.”
Springer then also quickly noted that the 6 foot 10 inch center has improved foul shooting from last season.
Ask Edgar about the 46.5 percent foul shooting from last year and he will probably just laugh.
The “kid that has always been taller than everyone else” is as laid back as they come.
Edgar comes from a family of four tall brothers — Chris, 26, stands at 6 feet 2 inches, while the other older brother Steve, 23, stands at 6 feet 5 inches. Dylan’s younger brother, Doug, is already pushing the six-foot mark during his freshman year of high school.
All four brothers have played in the Mechanicsburg High School basketball program and are extremely competitive on the court, but mostly relaxed off it.
For Edgar, it was comfortable to take a backseat to guys like Stasyszyn and Royal who were the senior leaders last season. Since they have left, the usually calm Edgar has taken his captain role by the reigns.
“He kind of took charge himself,” Springer said of Edgar’s leading efforts. “He set the tone on our workouts that we did in the spring and making sure everybody was on the same page about how we were going to go about it.”
“A few times guys were coming in just at the time that they were supposed to work out and he immediately jumped on them and told them to get there early. Right away I could tell he wanted to lead this team.”
Edgar’s confidence shines through, now that he does not have to worry about not being on the floor, or not getting a lot of chances to score. It is his team and he is prepared to help guide a group of raw, athletic young players to success this year.
The friendships that Edgar created with previous upperclassmen have allowed him to learn how to get the most out of his current teammates.
“I learned a lot freshman year with Jaren Gembe and those guys,” the junior big man said. “Then last year with Will [Royal] — especially with Will — because I was the closest with him and was really around him a lot.
“At any level, being a leader comes with maturity. No matter what level you’re playing at, leadership carries over. You learn from the people above you and that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.”