January 5, 2023
UPDATED: Baylor’s Dre’Una Edwards, a basketball star in limbo, wants to know why
'It definitely does feel unfair'
For Dre’Una Edwards, standout basketball player now enrolled at Baylor, the fact that Kentucky Wildcats head coach Kyra Elzy isn’t signing a waiver granting her the chance to play at her new college is surprising to her.
She said Elzy and the staff had wished her well when she chose to leave for Baylor following the 2021-22 season. Further, the signing of a “no participation opportunity form” in this era of mass transfers is typically a formality, as multiple coaches told The Next on background, the coaches understanding that they may someday need the same courtesy for a player transferring to their school.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that this will be the reason why I’m sitting out,” Edwards to The Next in a phone call Thursday afternoon. “I would think it was the academic waiver that would have paused my eligibility,” she added, punctuating with a laugh.
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But that’s not even close to an issue for Edwards, who took 33 credit hours last semester and posted a 3.6 GPA, all while serving as an active participant, even a leader, for her Baylor team in practices and the locker room.
Just not the games. Not until Kentucky acquiesces.
UPDATE: Following the publication of this piece, Coach Elzy released a statement to The Next saying: “We were asked by Baylor to sign an NCAA No Participation Opportunity form, certifying that Dre’una Edwards would not have had an opportunity to participate if she had stayed at Kentucky. That would not have been correct; Dre’una would have had the opportunity to participate if she had stayed. Dre’una transferred with the understanding that she would have to sit out unless she graduated, which she did not do.”
When asked about Elzy’s statement, Edwards responded: “Yes I was aware, however, the NCAA has other rules in place that allows student athletes to work around it. Which is why I was hopeful that Kentucky would sign the waiver.”
Several coaches familiar with the situation pointed out that while yes, this was the necessary form, signing it is routine in both the men’s and women’s game, though not all thought that meant Elzy should automatically do so. Everyone from Taylor Mikesell to Chrislyn Carr, who transferred from Baylor among other schools during four collegiate stops, have made this move without any issues raised by their former coaches.
“No one wants to be perceived as holding anyone back and if you don’t want to be here, why would I hold you here?”, one head coach told The Next. “And why wouldn’t I want you to be able to prosper?”
Kentucky noted their compliance department met with Edwards in March and “outlined in detail what she would need to do in order to be eligible if she decided to transfer.”
For her part, Baylor head coach Nicki Collen remains hopeful that Edwards will soon get the chance to play for her.
“Dree has been a model citizen while at Baylor,” Collen told The Next Thursday evening. “She is a great student, teammate and player and I would love to see her be rewarded for what she has accomplished in a short period of time. What she has done in the classroom the past 6 months here is incredible. She plays the game with an infectious energy that I can’t wait for our fans to see. We will continue to support her on and off the court as she is part of our family.”
Meanwhile, Edwards waits. She said she has done a lot of work on herself. She said she’d made mistakes at Kentucky but understands that she can only control what happens now, not what occurred in the past.
“I couldn’t have done it without all the support that I’ve had here,” Edwards said. “From coaches, to my teammates, to the people on staff, here in the back room, people on staff in our academic building, honestly, it’s been nothing but great support here. They’ve honestly pushed me to be a better person. And they’ve made me want to be better for myself.”
Still, Edwards was human. Those first few weeks in practice, she’d alternate between sad and mad, she said. But she came to realize that what Kentucky would do was out of her control. She chose to join Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, which places a premium on serving others. And she lives that every day on the practice floor, working to push Nicki Collen’s Baylor team even further than last season’s 28-win squad.
She knows, of course, that she’d be able to help the cause even more on the court. This is her second transfer — she left Utah for Kentucky previously. So it would require others to choose not to stand in her way.
That these are the very folks who benefited from her game-winning shot in the 2022 SEC title game, defeating South Carolina, makes it sting a little more, Edwards said. In case anyone has forgotten:
Nor was this a one-off. Edwards scored 27 points in the win over South Carolina and averaged 16.8 points per game for the Wildcats in 2021-22, shooting 52.1% from the field.
“it definitely does feel unfair,” Edwards said. “But you know, just saying, life isn’t fair a lot of times, so that’s how I’ve got to look at things at times. Even though it does hurt hurt my feelings that I feel like I played my heart out [for Kentucky].
“Yes, I know I made mistakes at Kentucky, and I’m not downplaying any of that. I understand that I may not have been who I am now, but I’ve done nothing but learn from everything that I’ve done there. And I think no matter what, I’ve never let outside energy mess up my game or mess up me playing my heart out for them. So it does get kind of frustrating at times, but honestly, like I just said, life isn’t fair. So you’ve got to deal with the hand that you’re dealt.”
Still, while she continues to enjoy life at Baylor, hoping for a chance to show what she can do on the basketball court once more, she does have questions for Kyra Elzy and Kentucky.
“I would just ask her: What’s the reason?” Edwards said. “And why is she doing this? What does she feel like she’s getting out of this? I say that would be my question.”