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By popular demand, after our publication of Arizona’s Top 10 Football Badasses, AllSportsTucson.com brings you the Wildcats’ Top 10 Basketball Badasses. The countdown will be featured in separate blogs.
Previously in the countdown:
No. 10: Jim “Guts” Rappis.
No. 9: Pete Williams
Nobody in Pac-12 circles is more knowledgeable about players and teams throughout the years than Bud Withers, a veteran journalist now with the Seattle Times.
When he was with the Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard in 1986, Withers described Arizona’s 6’6″ and 240-pound center John Edgar — yes, you read that right, a 6’6″ and 240-pound center: “bullish” with “overachieving play”.
A player at that proportion manning the middle must be a badass, not only to make the cut in college basketball, but to start for a conference championship team.
Edgar was a senior captain of Arizona’s first Pac-10 title team in 1985-86, a rock in the middle. He may have been short and stout, by the measure of a typical post player, but he could jump in addition to muscle his way around the hoop. He reportedly had a vertical leap of 40-plus inches.
Edgar averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds while shooting 50.9 percent from the field as a senior. He served as co-captain with Steve Kerr.
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In his fifth game at Arizona in 1984-85, after transferring from Pasadena (Calif.) City College, Edgar muscled his way to the hoop after tipoff for a spectacular dunk at NAU. On the next play, 30 seconds later, he showed his relentless style by diving after a loose ball.
He suffered a scratched eyeball on the play as a result of tangling up with NAU players. He missed the next four games because of double vision and stuck it out the rest of the season despite recurring problems.
His teammates mentioned the word “payback” when Arizona prepared for NAU the following season in Tucson. Edgar responded with a career-high 21 points in the Wildcats’ victory.
Edgar’s vision was back to normal as a senior and opponents such as the Lumberjacks paid the price of his renewed vigor.
Most Arizona basketball aficionados remember Craig McMillan’s “McClutch” shot at the buzzer that beat Oregon State in overtime on Jan. 23, 1986. What they don’t remember is Edgar’s team-high 20 points and game-high 10 rebounds in that pivotal game against the first-place Beavers.
The more balley-hooed Oregon State center, Jose Ortiz, was no match for Edgar with 16 points and six rebounds.
“John did a really good job for us on the boards and he ran the court very well,” Lute Olson told FoxSportsArizona.com reporter Steve Rivera earlier this season.
Rivera’s story was on the now-departed freshman forward Craig Victor, who transferred from Arizona to LSU after the fall semester because of a lack of playing time. Victor did not take heed to Edgar’s advice of persevering through challenges like only a “bullish” badass could.
“Don’t try to prove yourself to anybody, but prove yourself to yourself,” Edgar told Rivera. “You know what you can do. You know what you need to work on. Know your role … what your value is to the team and then continue to build on that.”
Edgar lives in Chino Hills, Calif., and is a senior vice president for Countrywide Home Loans.