North State Journal’s 100 in 100 series will showcase the best athlete from each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. From Alamance to Yancey, each county will feature one athlete who stands above the rest. Some will be obvious choices, others controversial, but all of our choices are worthy of being recognized for their accomplishments — from the diamond and gridiron to racing ovals and the squared circle. You can see all the profiles as they’re unveiled here.
Theodore “Blue” Edwards
Theodore Edwards didn’t get his colorful nickname because he liked the color blue or because he was a fan of UNC or Duke. He came upon it one day while he was still a baby when he began choking on something he’d put in his mouth. When his sister discovered the situation, she went running to their mother, yelling “You’ve got a blue boy! You’ve got a blue boy!” Mom prevented a tragedy by dislodging the impediment, but the nickname his sister saved him with stuck, and he became forever known as “Blue.”
A native of Walstonburg, Edwards grew to be 6-foot-4 and developed a jump shot that left opponents of Greene Central High School feeling blue. But as good as he was, it took two years of junior college ball at Louisburg before he finally got his Division I opportunity at East Carolina.
In his first season with the Pirates, 1986-87, Edwards averaged 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Then, after being suspended for the entire 1987-88 season, he returned to set a single-season school record by scoring 773 points, leading the Colonial Athletic Association and finishing sixth nationally by averaging 26.7 points per game.
It’s a performance that helped gain him entry into ECU’s Hall of Fame in 1994. His play also earned him the distinction of becoming the first — and one of only three — Pirates ever to play in the NBA when he was taken by the Utah Jazz with the 21st pick of the first round in the 1989 draft.
Edwards was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie second team in 1990 and increased his scoring average in each of his first four seasons in the league, topping out at a career-high of 16.9 points per game in his first season after being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1992-93.
The athletic wing, who was twice selected to participate in the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest, also played a season with the Boston Celtics before being taken in the expansion draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies. On March 1, 1996, Edwards recorded the first triple-double in Grizzlies history by hitting for 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Today, Edwards has come full circle by returning home to become the basketball coach at Greene Central.