Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats top badass hoops players: No. 5 Eugene Edgerson




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By popular demand, after our publication of Arizona’s Top 10 Football Badasses, 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

No. 8: John Edgar

No. 7: T.J. McConnell

No. 6: Joseph Blair

During his time with the Harlem Globetrotters, Eugene Edgerson was nicknamed “Killer”. Any doubt he belongs on this list of Arizona hoops badasses? …

One of the referees who worked the Globetrotters’ games mentioned Edgerson should be called “The Enforcer”. That name fits his style of play because of how he controlled the paint with his relentless energy on rebounds during his Arizona days. The popular reserve player — who was part of two Arizona teams that reached the NCAA title game — always let his presence be known, even as an entertainer with the Globetrotters.


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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:



Eugene Edgerson.

Eugene Edgerson now officiates Southern Arizona basketball games (Andy Morales/

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Opposing players had the chance to meet his elbows, not always intentionally, of course.

“When I’m out there on the court, I’m just making things happen, and I make the opposing team back down because I’m intimidating,” Edgerson told the Arizona Daily Wildcat in a 2004 interview. “Although it’s a show and everything (with the Globetrottters), I’m a competitor at heart.

“I was boxing this guy out real hard, and I threw in a couple elbows (laughs). You know, not on purpose or anything like that, it’s just instinctive. Sometimes I’ve just got to remember, ‘Gene, you’ve got to relax.’ My coaches and teammates love it, because I give it my all.”


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Edgerson, whose toughness allowed him to flourish from a modest upbringing in New Orleans, always defended his team and teammates with vigor.

After Arizona throttled Michigan State, perceived to be more physical than the Wildcats, in the 2001 Final Four, Edgerson told reporters: “We ain’t no punks.”

Edgerson’s experiences on the court were not always pleasurable. He once knocked out BYU center Bret Jepsen with an elbow in a game at Provo, Utah, in 1998. After jostling with Jepsen on a few occasions, Edgerson elbowed him while running upcourt. Jepsen was unconscious for less than a minute.

Arizona coach Lute Olson suspended Edgerson afterward but later defended him after reviewing what happened on film. Edgerson claimed Jepsen initiated the contact with elbows of his own and Olson concurred.

“There were a couple of incidences, and I told the officials to call a foul,” Edgerson explained to the Deseret News. “I took the law into my own hands. It wasn’t the right thing to do. But no one’s going to walk all over Eugene Edgerson.

“If (Jepsen) can dish it out, he should be able to take it. I felt at the time he was trying to take me out. It was either him or me. Unfortunately, he was the one taken out.”


Edgerson offered a public apology and wrote a letter to Jepsen, who did not respond.

“I told him I was sorry. What I did was wrong. I never denied that,” Edgerson said. “I felt so bad on the plane ride home after the game. It was in the heat of the battle, and I lost my cool. I never thought the guy wouldn’t be playing basketball anymore. I regret that. I never intended to hurt him for the rest of his life.”

Edgerson has endured other personal problems. The important theme to his story: He tries to improve himself during the difficult times, starting from when he was raised in New Orleans.

Edgerson redshirted late in his Arizona career (when he was an academic senior) to teach kindergarten as part of one of his courses.

He earned a Master of Arts in Teaching and Teacher Education degree in 2004 with a GPA of 3.625. He was a member of the 2001 Pac-10 All-Academic team.

He was given the title of “ambassador” of the Harlem Globetrotters for seven months between 2008 and 2009.

Edgerson has served as an educational consultant for the Arizona School Transformation Group in Tucson in recent years. He counsels youths and motivates them. He serves as a mentor and helps students set goals to improve themselves as students and people.

In a twist of irony, Edgerson also now serves as a certified referee for Southern Arizona high school basketball games. He officiates games involving the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Jewish Community Center, Kino Center and Tucson Summer Pro League and ACCAC men’s basketball.

He continues to enforce the action the court, only in a different way. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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