Camden standout, Gamecock target Joyce Edwards shines in high-profile matchup

Joyce Edwards of Camden High School

Camden coach Natalie Norris knows she might be a little biased, but she also knows who her choice would be for best high school player in the country — Joyce Edwards.

Edwards, who is No. 2 in ESPN HoopGurlz’s rankings for Class of 2024, backed up her coach’s opinion with a 40-point, 10-rebound performance in Camden’s 64-40 win over Charlotte Catholic on Saturday at The Big Hoops Shootout at Keenan High School.

“I think I say this every time we talk. She is the best player in the country,” Norris said of Edwards.. “She just showed her whole entire game today — inside, outside, handling the ball, passing the ball and rebounding. She truly can do it all.”

It was the junior’s third 40-point performance of her career and four off her career-best of 44 points set against Lugoff-Elgin in December of 2020.

Edwards’ performance came against Charlotte Catholic’s Blanca Thomas, the No. 9-ranked player in Class of 2024. LSU coach Kim Mulkey, Tennessee coach Kellie Harper and a North Carolina assistant were seated courtside for the matchup.

USC’s Dawn Staley would have been in attendance, but the Gamecocks are on the road Sunday against Alabama. She has been to both players’ games this year. All four schools are among the many Power 5 programs recruiting the two players.

Edwards hasn’t talked much publicly of her recruiting but said Saturday she probably would release her top schools this summer and make her choice before her senior season.

Edwards and Thomas were matched up against each other for much of the game. Thomas finished with eight points but had early foul trouble.

“When I was younger I played her (Thomas) a lot, maybe five or six times in AAU, but I couldn’t beat her,” Edwards said. “So, it was a very good win.

“I knew they didn’t have anyone out there who could guard me so I had to do what I had to do.”

Edwards is having one of the best seasons of her career, averaging 27.5 points and 14.4 rebounds. She is also closing in on 2,800 career points.

As a team, Camden (21-2) has won 19 consecutive games and has beaten teams from five different states this year. The Bulldogs, the No. 1 team in Class 3A, knocked off 4A powerhouses North Augusta and South Pointe the previous two weekends.

“She is a special player,” Charlotte Catholic coach Bobby Conrad said of Edwards. “She’s got a motor and doesn’t stop. She does all the little things and can beat you in different ways. She was a handful for us.”

Saturday was the second year in a row The Big Hoops Shootout made a stop in Columbia. Last year’s event sold out with MiLaysia Fulwiley and Keenan taking on Flau’jae Johnson and Sprayberry (Ga.)

Fulwiley and Keenan took on nationally-ranked Morris Catholic out of New Jersey. Morris Catholic has one of the top sophomores in the country in Mia Pauldo and defeated the Raiders, 80-68. Morris hit 14 3-pointers in the win.

Fulwiley, a South Carolina signee who was named a McDonald’s All-American on Tuesday, finished with 20 points.

Despite the loss, Fulwiley was appreciative to play in another high-profile event.

The presence of Fulwiley and Edwards continue to elevate the stature of high school basketball in South Carolina. The two players faced each other earlier this year in front of a packed house at the Chick-fil-A Classic at River Bluff High School.

“It’s a great thing,” Fulwiley said. “We are able to put our talent on display and bring the people out. It’s a great, not only for us but for the state of South Carolina.”

Camden 64, Charlotte Catholic 40

CC: Fava 4, Thomas 8, Gracyn Gough 23, Scales 5. C: Carter 9, Mungo 4, Champion 5, Joyce Edwards 40, Harris 6.

Morris Catholic (NJ) 80, Keenan 68

MC: Mya Pauldo 17, Mia Pauldo 17, Vimbor 5, Alexis Rosenfeld 11, Natalie Stoupakis 20, Daniella Matus 10. K: Teirra Griffin 20, Tanaja Kennedy 12, Brown 2, Hicks 6, MiLaysia Fulwiley 20, Johnson 6.