Penn State Preview Capsule
Last season: 15-18; 12th in the Big Ten
Nickname: Nittany Lions
Coach: Patrick Chambers
Conference: Big Ten
Who’s gone: F Peyton Banks, G Isaiah Washington, G Terrence Samuel.
Who’s back: G Tony Carr led the team with 13.2 points per game, scored in double figures 26 times — the most by a Penn State freshman ever — and played all 33 games. He also led the team in assists (139). G Shep Garner. The senior returns for his final year as arguably the team’s heart and soul. He’s the team’s top returning 3-point shooter (.357). F Lamar Stevens was second on the team with 12.7 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game. He made a name for himself last season with heavy inside play. G Josh Reaves. The sophomore might be Penn State’s most well-rounded player. He’s a strong defender who sparks transition scoring and led the Big Ten with 2.14 steals per game. F Mike Watkins showed flashes of dominance last season. He led the team with 8.1 rebounds per game and was ninth in the country with 2.73 blocks per game.
Who’s new: F Satchel Pierce transferred from Virginia Tech and will immediately look to help what was on of the worst rebounding teams in the Big Ten last season. F Jamari Wheeler was considered a Top 25 prospect from Florida who helped lead his high school team to 35 straight wins. F John Harrar turned down Division I football offers to play at Penn State. He averaged 19.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game as a senior at Strath Haven High School.
The Skinny: The Nittany Lions have seemingly been stuck in hopeful mode for a few years now but may finally be ready to cash in. Last year’s crop of freshmen — all made big impacts and played heavy minutes deep into the season. Penn State has to finish games down the stretch, however. The Nittany Lions lost 11 of their final 15 games including an 0-5 stretch to close the regular season. Reinforcing the forward corps with Pierce should help.