By Rubin E. Grant
Hannah Edwards had a few uniquely Southern traditions to get accustomed to when she moved from Canton, Ohio, to North Shelby County before the start of her eighth grade school year.
The first thing was the hot, humid Alabama summers and the not too cold winters.
Perhaps even more striking was the Southern custom of children saying, “Yes ma’am,” and, “Yes sir” to adults.
“Up north it’s considered disrespectful to say ma’am and sir because it makes someone feel like an old person,” Edwards said.
Another change was Southern cuisine, especially fried food such as tomatoes and okra.
“We had fried food up there, but down here they fry everything,” Edwards said. “I never heard of some of things they fry, but it’s delicious.”
And of course, she had to acquire a taste for that Alabama staple: sweet tea. Earlier this summer, Edwards and her mother, Barbara Edwards, took a trip to Kansas.
“We went to a restaurant and my mom wanted some sweet tea,” Edwards said. “They told her she could have some spice tea and some sugar packets. It was not the same thing.”
Along with the cultural adaptations, Edwards had to adjust from just being tall to being really tall. She had always been the tallest girl in her class in Canton, but after coming to Alabama, she hit a growth spurt. She jumped from 5 feet, 11 inches to 6 feet, 4 inches.
Her height wasn’t too much of a surprise considering it runs in the family. Her dad is 6-6, her mom is 6-0 and her older sisters are 6-0 and 5-11.
Edwards has added two more inches since then and is now 6-6. She enters her senior year at Oak Mountain High School as a prized girls basketball recruit. She is rated the No. 13 center nationally in the Class of 2020 by ESPN.
Next week, Edwards will play with some other highly regarded players in the AHSAA 2019 North-South All-Star girls basketball game. She will be on the North team for the July 16 tip-off at 5 p.m. at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome on the campus of Alabama State University in Montgomery. The game is part of the AHSAA All-Stars Sports Week.
“I am extremely excited and honored,” Edwards said. “I get to play with different players, elite players, people like me who want to play college basketball.”
Born to Play Basketball
Edwards doesn’t play basketball simply because she’s tall. It’s a family thing, too. Her mom and dad both played in high school, as did her sisters.
“I’ve been playing my whole life,” Edwards said. “I was on an organized team when I was 3. My mom coached me until the seventh grade, until we moved down here. She taught me how to play and all the fundamentals.”
Edwards has become a force at Oak Mountain thanks in part to the tutelage of Eagles head coach Beth Parmer.
After taking over as Oak Mountain’s coach three years ago, Parmer noticed that, despite Edwards’ height, she didn’t always play aggressively. Parmer instructed Edwards to be more physical and to play through contact in the post.
“I’ve seen her gradually go from a timid player, not knowing what her potential was, to someone capable of taking over in the paint,” Parmer said. “She has developed into a better player as she’s matured. We’re looking for good things out of her this year.”
Edwards credits Parmer for helping her become a more self-assured player.
“Coach Parmer has definitely given me confidence in the way I play,” Edwards said. “I wasn’t as confident before. She opened my eyes to see how to do things and to believe in myself.”
Edwards saw limited playing time as a sophomore because of an injury, but last season, as a junior, she averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. She was named to the All-Over the Mountain team.
This summer Edwards has been crisscrossing the country, visiting prospective colleges and playing for the All Alabama Roadrunners, an AAU team sponsored by Under Armour and coached by Beverly and Greg Kirk. The Roadrunners played in Nashville last week and this week headed to Indianapolis to compete in an Under Armour tournament.
Some of the colleges Edwards has visited include Alabama, Auburn, UAB, Samford, Florida, LSU, North Carolina, Kansas, Georgia Tech, West Virginia and Southern Miss.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity and experience to visit some great colleges and meet some iconic coaches,” Edwards said. “I’ve developed valuable insight into each program and where I might fit in best. I’ve gotten good advice from the players to help me make a solid decision.
“Out of respect to the schools I’m investigating, I’m choosing not to share any of the offers I have received. My recruitment is wide open. I want to play at the Division I level and I hope to play in the WNBA. I want to get a degree in sports management. I am hoping to make a decision by the end of August.”
Meanwhile, Edwards has set some lofty goals for her final season at Oak Mountain.
“My personal goals are to average 25 points, 10-12 rebounds and five blocks,” Edwards said. “As a team, we want to make it to regionals. I think we have a high chance of making it.”