A year ago, Christian Cox wasn’t on the court for the Edinburgh boys basketball team. He wasn’t even enrolled at the school.
But his heart never strayed from the Lancers.
Though he spent his junior year attending school in Columbus, Cox was in the crowd for nearly every Edinburgh game, chopping it up with his friends on the team after watching them.
Now, he’s officially part of the group again, and the 6-foot-3 senior has made a major impact for a Lancers team enjoying a resurgence under first-year coach Keith Witty.
“He’s very athletic, a player who has the range to shoot 3s but also has the ballhandling skills to put the ball on the deck and, along with his height at 6-3, he’s able to go and finish inside,” Witty said of Cox.
That ability to do damage inside and out has allowed Cox to average a team-best 13.4 points per game. He also leads the Lancers in rebounds (5.9 per game) and blocked shots and ranks second in steals.
His presence is something that was missed during Edinburgh’s 6-18 season a year ago. Cox, who lettered for the Lancers as a sophomore, wound up getting in some trouble later in the school year and then had to spend his junior year at Columbus East anyway while he helped care for his paternal grandmother.
“I just knew I had to help my grandma for a little bit,” Cox said, “but I didn’t know I was going to end up having to move down there.”
He went through preseason conditioning with the Olympians but never played for the team — “they had their thing, and they didn’t really want to mess with someone new,” Cox recalled. Instead, he kept riding with his once and future teammates, attending their games regularly and playing with them during the offseason.
So when Cox returned to Edinburgh for his senior year, it was almost as though he had never left.
“I played summer ball with Bryce (Burton), Darius (Bennett), Parker (Bryant) and Justin (Fosskuhl), so we were always together a lot,” he said. “I talked to them all the time; they’re my best friends. We’ve always been pretty close, so it wasn’t like anything changed.”
That seamlessness has shown during Edinburgh’s 8-6 start, which included tight defeats against larger opponents Indian Creek, Triton Central, Monrovia and Franklin. Cox has been an integral part of Witty’s game plan at both ends of the floor.
On defense, he has to play inside most of the time because of the Lancers’ relative lack of size, but Cox is also quick enough to guard star wings such as Whiteland’s Brennan Neal, and Witty utilizes him in that role on occasion — but not as often as he’d like.
“I would love to move him out,” the coach said, “but at the end of the day, he’s going to play inside.”
That’s not the case on offense, where Cox’s versatility is on full display. A difficult matchup for opponents because of his length and his ability to knock down outside shots, Cox is often working from the top of the key when Edinburgh has the ball.
“One thing I wanted to give him was room to create and have room to move a little bit,” Witty said.
The arrangement has worked out well for both player and coach, neither of whom were on the Edinburgh sideline a year ago.
Cox always was there in spirit, but his teammates are no doubt happy that he’s back on the floor with them where he belongs.