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VJ Edgecombe's trip from the Bahamas to Baylor. Next up: the NBA

Under the warm, sunny Bimini sun, 8-year-old VJ Edgecombe developed his love for the game. Sitting inside our studio at SLAM HQ, the nation's No. 4 ranked player recalls those backyard pickup games with a smile as bright as her diamond earrings.

“I was just having fun, I didn't care about the talent. “We wanted to play for fun,” said Edgecombe.

But talent is something the 18-year-old has always had. It was only a matter of time before those outside the islands knew his name. After going toe-to-toe with juniors and seniors as a 13-year-old at Buddy Hield's basketball camp in the Bahamas, VJ decided to use his strength and energy by heading to the United States to pursue his two dreams: making the NBA and pro. his family.

The transition was smooth, says Edgecombe, but the reality of spending your teenage years in a new country was not without its challenges. “I know that everything is for the best,” he said, “so I can definitely give it up.”

Before his freshman year, VJ headed to Florida, where he was initially unable to wake up due to the epidemic. His sophomore campaign was spent on the local AAU circuit with the South Florida Kings before catching the attention of the Southeast Elite team on the adidas 3SSB circuit.

“I was playing with a messed up wrist and couldn't shoot anything. [I was] just on the court to play defense, go to the rim and make plays,” said VJ during the summer of his junior year. “I left those last two sessions without an offer. I was just crouching. I was just having fun, that's all that mattered to me.”

Despite not being able to break down defenders with pull-up jumpers and spot-up threes, Edgecombe's dominance quickly gained ground. Down-chase blocks and backside pins were a constant, alongside emphatic tomahawk dunks.

Filled with lessons in determination and from his childhood in the Bahamas, VJ brought a relentless hunger to Long Island (NY) Lutherans the following season. In his junior year, he exploded with supernova power.

“I came to America to play basketball, knowing that I have to support my family and all that. That really helped me and the person I am now. Just work harder than everyone else,” Edgecombe said. “I don't want to be in that thing [percentage] that doesn't work. I want to be in a part that makes it easy and sets the standard and sets a path for all the young kids behind me.”

In his first year playing against the nation's top prospects in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC), a new league of elite prep teams, Edgecombe earned the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year award while also earning the league's Player of the Year and scoring goals. titles by pouring in 17.3 ppg. The requests started flooding in. In mid-January, Edgecombe announced his decision to commit, becoming Baylor's highest commitment in more than a decade.

Edgecombe has established himself as one of the best players in his class. Athleticism is unfair. And that J is smoother than the strings of his LuHi uniform. Hope we put it in the game, because the Bimini native is completely locked into the next chapter of his journey.

“I feel like it's going to tear me apart, to be honest,” VJ said defensively. “You have a lot of goal scorers who have done well in this country. I'll be honest—everyone can score. I just need to do something that will make me different from everyone else. I'm not trying to be the same, I'm trying to be different.”

Photos by Erick Sasso.

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