News Now: Purdue Basketball Player Developer Has A Misunderstanding With Zach Edey, says He Is No Longer…

A damaged chair at Brandon Brantley’s workspace is evidence of Zach Edey’s diligent efforts outside of the court.

Brandon Brantley stood a good ten feet away from Zach Edey on Thursday afternoon at State Farm Stadium as he was besieged by scores of reporters and photographers in one part of the locker room.

Purdue Boilermakers assistant coach Brandon Brantley passes the ball during basketball practice, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, at Purdue University’s Cardinal Court in West Lafayette, Ind.

Edey, the two-time national player of the year for the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and Brantley, the current Howard Moore assistant coach of the year in the Big Ten Conference, are used to being close to one another. The majority of the 6-8 Brantley’s time is devoted to mentoring Purdue’s big men.

“The duration of our visit in my office,” grinned Brantley. One of our chairs has a large ding in it. I doubt I’ll ever get another one. ‘What happened to the chair?’ will be asked. Zach sits in that chair. He’ll enter there carrying his snacks and meals, anything. When we first started, he would watch everything and chat about things, so we would sit there for hours on end. It had a significant role in his growth.

With the rise of 7-4 Edey, who is the buzz of the Arizona desert heading into Saturday’s national semifinal matchup against North Carolina State and its star, 6-9 DJ Burns Jr., Purdue’s legendary history with big men reached a new height.

Purdue assistant coach Brandon Brantley during practice, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.

However, Edey did not necessarily know that she would become famous after high school. Matt Painter, the coach of Purdue, thought back on Edey’s conversation with him on Thursday and expressed his reluctance to burn a redshirt season in his first year of college. He received no assurances from Painter.

Painter recalled where he was seated at the time of the call. “It was actually toward the conclusion of his hiring. He was almost a Baylor student. I just answered, “Hey man, I can’t guarantee you that.” However, if you choose not to play, I won’t squander your year and won’t redshirt you. But enter here and give someone a beating.

After Matt Haarms transferred to BYU, Edey had the chance to train against Trevion Williams for two seasons. Edey’s rookie year was not spent as a redshirt. In his rookie season, he averaged 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds. In his sophomore year, he started all games and averaged 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds.

Terry Johnson, a Purdue alum with Final Four experience, is another important assistant. He is aware of the winner.

Regarding Edey, Brantley remarked, “He was a kid that had only played for four or five years.” Thus, he was still learning a few things. The college game is obviously a little bit quicker. He merely continued to observe. Trevion Williams spent his first two years here, so it was a terrific opportunity to learn how to face a player of his ability every day. Many things came together. People should give him the credit, I tell them. I needed to equal his vigor and commitment.

Edey and Brantley enjoyed a moment of bouncing up and down during Purdue’s on-court celebration after their Elite 8 victory over Tennessee in Detroit on Sunday, reflecting the hours spent together watching movies and working.

Brantley knows all about the heartache of coming close to a Final Four dream. As a full-time starter as a Purdue sophomore, he averaged 4.5 points and 4.5 rebounds on the 1993-94 team that knocked off Kansas in the Sweet 16 but lost two days later to Duke to come one win short of the Final Four.

Brantley averaged 10.0 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior in 1994-95, and 8.8 points and 5.6 rebounds the next year as a senior. Both of those teams won the Big Ten Conference but were bounced in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

“I was happy, man,” Brantley said. “It’s been a long time coming. I always wanted to go as a player. Obviously, I didn’t. … The goal is to get to the Final Four. I was happy. I was just hugging everybody. It was great. (Edey’s) joy matched my joy. My joy matched his joy.”

Brantley said he learned a lot from his high school coach at Andrean, Bob Buscher. But even before that, from his father, Cornell Brantley. Lessons he learned playing in the YMCA going back to third grade.

“He coached me in elementary school, coached a little bit in seventh grade and helped out a little bit in high school,” Brantley said of his father. “But the real sessions were at home. Sitting around watching college and pro games, going to high school games. The conversations were always basketball, even to this day. He’s got a list of, ‘You guys are playing this team, make sure you are doing this or this.’ He loves the big guys, too, so he’s saying, ‘Tell Zach to keep the ball high,’ or ‘Don’t put it down on the floor so fast,’ or ‘Elevate his hook.’ That’s always the conversation. He loves basketball.”

Brantley listens to his 75-year-old father because, well, that is how he was taught. And because the former Purdue captain, now in his 11th year as an assistant, knows you can never stop learning in this business.

“I can be in this thing for 50 years and never stop learning,” Brantley said. “That’s the great thing about coaching. When I was young you kind of looked at a coach like he had all the answers, and he was never wrong. There’s been days where these kids teach me lessons and I need to go back and apply this or change what I’m doing.”

The 2021 IndyStar Mr. Basketball, Caleb Furst, stated that Brantley’s contribution to Purdue’s accomplishments is a “huge integral part.”

“I was happy he was able to get his flowers,” Furst said. “He’s one of those guys you want to hang out with on the court and off the court. To me, I think that’s important because a lot of coaches, you can’t really build a relationship with them. … He’s someone you know cares about you off the court. He’s there for you.”

The ever-deferential Brantley does not take credit for Edey’s development as college basketball’s most dominant player. The opportunity to learn was there. The opportunity to work was there. Edey took it and ran with it.

Brantley said, “I don’t know what you call a guy like that.” “He is an expert.”

A damaged chair in Brantley’s office is evidence of Edey’s propensity for studying.

“I’m going to stop there,” Brantley said. I might have to say something to the next person when he walks in. “You’ve arrived if you can make a dent in that other chair.”

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