Is Zach Edey Just Tall?
An analysis of Zach Edey's dominance and whether it's just due to his height
There has been somewhat of a debate online about whether Zach Edey’s dominance in college basketball is mainly because he’s so much taller than everyone else. It seems a little silly to me: Yes, he can do things other people can’t because he’s 7’4”, but he also has to overcome challenges that more athletic, shorter players (let’s say 7 feet or less) don’t struggle with. Any way you slice it, he’s an amazing college basketball player and is doing things in college that we’ve never seen before from someone with his physical profile.
Still, I was curious to see how his performance compares to other “giants” who also share the same cheat code of being taller than everyone else in the sport. I posted a summary of the analysis on Twitter/X, but let’s expand on it a bit.
The graph below compares Zach Edey’s offensive performance in each season with all other players 7’3” or taller since 2011, using the EvanMiya.com metric Offensive Bayesian Performance Rating, which measures offensive player value per possession while on the court. The separation between Edey and all other “giants” is pretty amazing (click on the graph to expand it):
If just being tall made it easier to dominate college basketball, Zach Edey would not be in his own tier of offensive impact in this graph. Players like Tacko Fall, Matt Haarms, and Connor Vanover had pretty nice seasons, but what Zach Edey has done the last several years puts them to shame. The takeaway is that being extremely tall doesn’t give Edey a massive advantage. He plays to his strengths, yes, but he is also doing things that every other tall giant has tried and mostly failed at.
The other astounding thing is how much more valuable he has been this season than last year, a season in which he easily won National Player of the Year. He’s only been playing organized basketball for 7 years, and he’s still showing that he can up his level each season.
How good is Edey when we compare him not just to other giants, but to all college basketball players? The answer: Arguably the best we’ve seen in a long time. In my database going back to 2011, Zach Edey in 2023-24 has the highest overall Bayesian Performance Rating of any player. On a per-possession basis, he’s estimated to have a bigger impact on both ends of the floor than any player we’ve seen in college basketball in over a decade. Reasonable people can debate if he’s the best college player in that span, but the point is that he not only stacks up well against other tall centers, he bosses everyone.
To see the full database of players, visit the Player Ratings page at EvanMiya.com.
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