March Madness: Zach Eddy calls out Tennessee's Rick Barnes among doubters: 'I can't do this anymore'

Purdue's run to the Final Four is a journey of redemption.

For the Boilermakers, it means moving on from the 2023 Demons and rewriting the narrative that focused squarely on their historic loss to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in last year's NCAA Tournament.

For Zach Eddy, there's more. The All-American center and consensus two-time national player of the year arrived at Purdue in 2020 without much fanfare. He was Three-star recruit With a few scholarship offers. He remembers those coaches who overlooked him.

Among them is Rick Barnes of Tennessee. After Eddie drove Purdue past the Barnes Volunteers in the Midwest Regional Final on Sunday, he called Barnes by name.

“There were a lot of coaches that cared about me,” Eddy told reporters as the net around his neck represented Purdue's trip to the Final Four. “You can name a program, and I can name a coach that took care of me. Tennessee – Rick Barnes is a great coach. But he was at a bunch of our practices, and he took care of me.

“This has kind of been the story of my life. People doubted me, looked down on me. I can't do this anymore.”

Zach Eddy was a three-star recruit with limited offers.  How was the 7-4 All-American overlooked?  (Photo by Jimmy Sabaugh/NCAA via Getty Images)

Zach Eddy was a three-star recruit with limited offers. How was the 7-4 All-American overlooked? (Photo by Jimmy Sabaugh/NCAA via Getty Images)

How was Eddie so overlooked?

So why wasn't Eddie a sought-after recruit out of high school? Given his NPOY status and his 7-foot-4 frame that is a nightmare in every game he plays, it seems like the coaches should have been knocking on his door.

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instead of, To all competitorsHe received offers from Baylor, Minnesota, Western Kentucky, Tulane, as well as Purdue. USA Today reports He also received offers from Seton Hall and Santa Clara. There were no blue bloods in sight.

Eddie's late arrival to the game certainly played a role in the relative lack of interest. A Toronto native, Eddie focused on hockey and baseball in his youth. Per the Indianapolis Star, he resisted playing basketball until high school. When he did, he caught the attention of IMG Academy, which helped put him on the radar as a three-star recruit.

It is also known that Eddie's game is not a modern big man's game. In the world of NBA positionless basketball, the traditional post-Eddie game is a liability. He doesn't have the agile feet, playmaking prowess or shooting range of post-modern greats like Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. As his college career nears its end, the lingering question remains: How does his game translate to the pros?

But that's a question for the NBA. There's no doubt that Eddie's game translates to the college game, which works in Purdue's favor. It was on full display Sunday in a 40-point, 16-rebound effort that Tennessee was powerless to stop.

And Eddie – now two wins away from a national championship – is happy to point out those who overlooked him.

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