Maurice Edwards enjoyed a dynamite basketball career with the Alton Redbirds.
From his first varsity points, a half-court shot as a freshman at East St. Louis, to a junior postseason where he put the Birds on his shoulders and helped steer them to a second straight sectional championship appearance, he’s done a lot.
Unfortunately, his senior year was cut short. He only played in 20 of the team’s 28 games. He averaged 10.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game when he was in there and gave the Redbirds a spark offensively and defensively.
Edwards’ biggest effort of the season came in a 27-point performance against Riverview Gardens to open the season. He also poured in 23 in the Class 4A Granite City Regional opener against the host Warriors.
After winning the Alton Exchange Club Player of the Year, Edwards now adds Riverbend AdVantage News Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors.
Edwards did a lot of soul-searching during his missed time, deepening his love of basketball and allowing him to mature as a man.
“I realized I loved basketball a lot more when I couldn’t play,” Edwards said. “When you have everybody counting on you and people always expecting you to play and you can’t, it hurts you and it hurts a lot of other people. That’s what makes winning these awards that much more special, because I don’t really feel like I did enough to win them, but I’m just happy to be acknowledged for all I’ve done.
“I’ve just done a lot of thinking and I feel like that’s why I’m ready to go to college. I don’t think I’m going to have those setbacks like I did this year.”
The 6-foot guard will take his talents to Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Mo. The junior college powerhouse went 28-3 this past season and reached No. 9 in the national rankings. Mineral Area sent six sophomores to Division I schools after the season.
“I just want to play my game and be able to help my team and hopefully win a championship,” he said. “I’m going to a good school for winning and I think they’ll be able to help me out a lot.
“I just want to go to the best (4-year) school I can go to and be around the best people who are willing to help me be successful.”
Edwards can take his game to another level when motivated, too.
“I always like playing the harder games,” Edwards said. “One of my favorite games to play is the East St. Louis game. When you play against other good players it always brings out the best in you.
“I just take pride in not letting other people have great games against me like they may have against someone else.”
The soft-spoken Edwards may be ready for college, but he won’t forget Alton, or his time playing for coach Eric Smith and the Redbirds. He learned to come out of his shell on the basketball court.
“I love my city,” Edwards said. “I just appreciate everybody who was there for me and all the love.
“I learned to be a leader and be a little more vocal on the court. I’m kind of laid-back and I feel like that’s the biggest thing that I need to work on … but when people see me in games, the next day at school they’ll say, ‘You’re a whole different person on the court.’ I feel like I’m a lot more expressive on the court.”