Although their respective high schools are 39 miles apart, sophomores Nick Robinson and Lorenzo Edwards say they grew up just 25 minutes from each other in the Chicago area.

The two never faced off in high school, but played plenty of one-on-one games against each other after arriving to Hawk Hill. It’s been a while since they’ve played, but the games were competitive.

“We wouldn’t talk to each other for a bit after [the games],” Edwards said with a laugh.

The two Chicago-natives met each other at Saint Joseph’s on the same recruiting trip.

“They visited together, but it was never a package thing,” head coach Phil Martelli said. “We recruited them separately.”

Robinson was the first of the two to commit to SJU in April of 2016, choosing the Hawks over Indiana State.

“It’s a small school, not too many distractions, solid education, that’s what sold me,” Robinson said. “Once I committed, I was recruiting [Edwards] to come here,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s attempted persuasion was only a fraction of what convinced Edwards to also commit to SJU.

“It helped, but I kind of had my thoughts on the coaching staff,” Edwards said. “I thought with the coaching staff, this was a place I could get better. I knew we would have a solid team. That really sold me. [Robinson] did convince me and said we’d room together.”

Edwards and Robinson have been roommates since arriving at St. Joe’s and see each other as brothers both on and off the court.

“We just helped each other because we were both in the same situation being away from home and coming from pretty much the same background,” Edwards said. “It was just good to have a kid that could almost feel the same thing I was feeling – missing family, wanting to go home. We could easily relate to each other and the struggles we were going through first semester of freshman year.”

The fraternal relationship between the two Chicago natives continued to develop beyond the first-semester struggles.

“You can see somebody grow right in front of you every day,” Robinson said. “He’s seen me grow and I’ve seen him grow. We’re completely different people than when we first got here, so it’s nice to share that experience with somebody.”

Although many would argue there’s no better basketball than that of Philadelphia, both Robinson and Edwards are proud of the city from which they hail – and rightfully so, according to Martelli.

“I think that everybody should be proud of where they come from, and they should be proud of representing where they come from,” Martelli said.

Both Robinson and Edwards are convinced the country’s best basketball comes from Chicago, where basketball is defined by defense and toughness. The two have played against the NBA talents of Tyler Ulis, Jahlil Okafor, and Jabari Parker. Edwards played against Villanova guard Jalen Brunson around 10 times while in high school as well, resulting in a close friendship between Edwards’ and Brunson’s families.

Chicago isn’t only home to the country’s best basketball, but also food, according to Edwards and Robinson. They’re both big fans of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Center City, but argue nothing compares to food from home. The two gave the rest of the team a taste of Chicago food while on a trip for a game against Illinois-Chicago at the beginning of this season with pizza from Giordano’s, Edwards’ favorite.

While in Chicago, Edwards scored the first points of his career in front of 40 family members and friends. He pulled up for the first shot of his collegiate career and nailed a three-pointer, capping an 8-0 run for the Hawks to take a 23-22 lead about midway through the first half. Edwards also provided two rebounds and an assist in his 11 minutes of play.

“It was a great feeling,” Edwards said. “It was good to play in front of them. It was really my first game because I was hurt last year and they were there seeing it. They wouldn’t miss a high school game, so coming to college it’s really hard for them to catch a game, so it felt really good for them to be there.”

Robinson invited a hundred of his family and friends to see the 86-82 Hawks victory. In 31 minutes, he scored seven points, pulled down six rebounds, and tallied an assist.

Edwards, the son of Kevin Edwards, an 11-year NBA player, was given an extra year of eligibility after shoulder surgery sidelined him for all but one game as a freshman. He played four minutes against Columbia, but was otherwise held back by his injury. Robinson, meanwhile, saw action in all 31 of the Hawks’ games in the 2016-17 campaign and started in 19 of them.

Despite both being sophomores academically, Robinson and Edwards remain two of the youngest players on the team, but move forward with experience and leadership to be a catalyst for their continued improvement.