Chelsea’s Michaella Edwards named 2017 Player of the Year

Michaella Edwards shoots over a double team in a game against Pelham. The sophomore averaged 29 points and 11.1 rebounds per game as she ran away with the 2017 Player of the Year honor. (For the Reporter/Cari Dean)

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

It’s 4:30 a.m., Michaella Edwards rolls out of bed, slides on a pair of shoes and goes for her daily 3-mile run to start begin the day. It’s the extra effort of Edwards that makes her such a special basketball player, and has allowed the sophomore from Chelsea to be named the Shelby County girls basketball Player of the Year.

Couple her 3-mile 4:30 a.m. jogs with two hours of practice after school and another two hours of putting up shots by herself and you can see why Edwards was able to average an astounding 29 points and 11.1 rebounds per game during the season.

Since the age of 5, Edwards has been hitting the hardwood working toward her success, but it wasn’t until fourth grade that she really fell in love with the game.

“That was the first time I played AAU ball and got to go places and meet new people from other schools,” she said. “I’ve made some good friendships with players from all over the area which makes it so much more fun now.”

Last year, Edwards averaged a double-double as well and was a member of the All-County second team, showing she already had the tools to be great. This year she not only continued proving herself, but she also showed there is plenty of room for improvement in her game after upping her rebounding average by one per game and her point average by 11 per game.

She is already taking advantage of the offseason and putting in the extra work to be the best she can be moving forward, and it starts with her new travel ball team, the Georgia Metros, which is one of the most distinguished travel basketball teams in the country.

“I was back in the gym two days after the season was over,” Edwards said. “Being on such a great travel ball team that I can practice and scrimmage with will basically help me come back next year like a college player playing high school ball.”

Edwards said she has already improved in several areas including her ball handling, a quicker release, better footwork and a lot more power.

One area Edwards doesn’t need any improvement in is getting in the paint, drawing fouls and making free throws. She did a good job of avoiding contact to get into the lane and to the basket, then drawing the contact once she was there.

“I get hit a lot, but I’m not afraid to drive into contact, so if I see a way to get to the goal, then I’m going to the goal,” she said.

Edwards shot a remarkable 410 free throws, which was close to at least 200 more than most other players in the county. Of those 410, she knocked down 341, which was good enough for 83 percent on the year.

“It’s very important to me to make free throws because free throws determine the game,” Edwards said of her sharp shooting at the line. “I hate missing a free throw, it’s the worst thing I can do. Anytime I’m watching a college game and see a missed free throw, I can’t stand it.”

Her dislike for missing free throws leads to another one of her instrumental practice qualities of shooting free throws tirelessly. Edwards said she puts up around 300 a day to get better.

Edwards’ work ethic carried over to the team and early in the season they realized they could compete with and beat anybody they faced. She and first year head coach Lori Weber helped take a team from six wins to 16 in one year because of the belief they brought each and every night.

“She is definitely a leader,” Weber said of Edwards’ efforts on the floor. “She does get frustrated sometimes, but she is taking on a lot of the pressure. She just does such a good job of being dependable on the floor for us.”

There is still some growing room for the sophomore when it comes to a mentality standpoint, something she has recognized.

“I think the hardest thing for me was when the other team would put two people on me and that was just really mentally frustrating,” Edwards said. “The more situations I face in a basketball game and the more experience I get, I’ll be able to handle the mental side of this sport a lot better.”

With all but one senior in Kathryne Shoop back next year, the Hornets are poised to make a run. With an extra year of experience back, and a load of talent, Edwards and Chelsea will be even more improved, which is scary to think that she could come back an even better player next year.