Correction:

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Craig Esherick as the former assistant coach for Georgetown. He was also the head coach, from 1999 to 2004.

George Mason basketball’s Corey Edwards diverges from his father’s path

During last year’s Kenner League, the summer basketball jamboree at McDonough Gymnasium, George Mason’s Corey Edwards introduced himself to John Thompson Jr., the retired Georgetown coach.

“I’m Dave Edwards’s son.”

Thompson shook his head and broke into a broad grin.

In recalling the conversation this week, the Patriots sophomore said Thompson told him, “Your dad was a maniac!”

“My dad,” the young Edwards said, “definitely gave [Thompson] some of the gray hairs he has.”

More than 20 years after David Edwards’s only season at Georgetown, there is another Queens-bred point guard who fails to reach 6 feet and carries the family name at a local program. Only this one isn’t as brash and doesn’t play at a furious pace.

Corey Edwards will probably start for the 10th straight time Saturday when the Patriots (10-7, 3-2) host Hofstra (5-12, 2-2) in a Colonial Athletic Association game. He is posting modest numbers (4.5 points and 2.7 assists) but playing smart defense and getting the team into an improved offensive flow.

He shoots infrequently but efficiently: 53 percent overall and 10 of 15 on three-pointers.

Patriots Coach Paul Hewitt knows both father and son well. He was coaching in high school in the late 1980s when the elder Edwards, now 41, stacked up with NBA-bound Kenny Anderson and starred in Manhattan’s high-flying Rucker League.

Hewitt, 49, ran a summer league on Long Island and invited teams from the city to compete.

“He was Little Dave,” he said of the 5-foot-9 dynamo. “He was a dynamic little scorer, quick, very fancy. Nothing like Corey.”

When Hewitt replaced Jim Larranaga in the spring of 2011, one of his first tasks was to ensure 5-11 Corey Edwards, then a senior at Christ the King High School, would honor his letter of intent to play for the Patriots.

He and David Edwards reconnected one afternoon in the South Jamaica neighborhood.

“Corey wasn’t home yet,” Hewitt said. “Dave and I were sitting there talking about the old times, games we might’ve been at even though we didn’t know each other at the time. Corey comes walking in and rolls his eyes, as if to say, ‘Oh man, I’ve got to listen to my dad’s old stories again?’ ”

David Edwards arrived at Georgetown with a 41-point high school average, playground flash and attitude. He appeared in every game of the 1989-90 campaign, but his style clashed with a disciplined system emphasizing the prized big men, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo.

“I wasn’t a complete player,” David Edwards said. “I wish I could’ve been more mature after high school. I could’ve listened more.”

He transferred to Texas A&M, where he averaged 13.5 points and set program records for career assists and steals that still stand today. Each year, the Aggies present the David Edwards Assist Award. In his final season, Edwards was runner-up for the Naismith Award, given to the nation’s best player 6 feet or shorter.

After college, Edwards said he played in Iceland and Lithuania before settling back in New York.

Corey Edwards said his father was a “big influence. He watches more film of me than I do.”

But the influence was not in the form of on-court instruction.

“When I was little, he never worked out with me. He pushed me but didn’t nag me,” Corey said. “He let me figure it out. It kind of frustrated me. I was like: ‘All right, is he going to tell me anything? Is he going to talk to me?’ I guess he didn’t want to burn me out too quickly.”

David Edwards was conscious of the pressure on his son to meet expectations set by himself and his own father, Dave, a three-year captain at Virginia Commonwealth in the early 1970s.

“People were coming up to Corey and saying, ‘I played with your dad, he did some amazing things,’ ” David Edwards said. “It was pressure, but good pressure. What are you going to do? You have to beat it.”

Corey said he chose George Mason over St. John’s, Hofstra and La Salle – in large part because former high school teammate Ryan Pearson was excelling with the Patriots. (Pearson was the 2011-12 CAA player of the year.)

Early last year, after averaging 4.3 assists over a four-game period and starting twice, Edwards suffered a concussion in practice and missed two games. Despite medical clearance, “he didn’t come back the same,” Hewitt said.

This season, Edwards has reduced turnovers and showed greater leadership. “You don’t want to have to look to the coach for every decision,” he said. “I’ve learned and studied every game on film so I can start calling the plays myself.”

His father visits every few weeks and sometimes sees two familiar faces handling TV commentary at Patriot Center: former Hoyas coach Craig Esherick and ex-teammate Ron Thompson.

Comparing his playing style to his father’s, Corey said: “We’re totally different. I am pass first and look for my shot later. He was like: ‘I am going to score on you every play.’ He was an arrogant player. He built that into his swagger.”

Corey receives feedback after every game from his father, who, when not in attendance, watches from home with his wife, Phenrisa.

“He wants me to be a good player,” Corey said. “Some people don’t have their fathers in their lives, some don’t have both parents, so I take it with me.”

 
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