Penn State’s 10 Best Basketball Players
Some time in the next few weeks, Tim Frazier’s career as a Penn State basketball player will come to an end. His career has been illustrious, as Frazier has been unquestionably one of the greatest to ever don the Blue and White.
While discussing his legacy at Penn State may be a bit premature, it’s never too early to honor one of the best to ever play the game in Happy Valley, especially among some of the school’s other great players.
D.J. Newbill: It’s perfectly reasonable to expect that Newbill will cement his status as one of the 10 best players in school history with another monster season next year. It’s also perfectly reasonable to expect that he will have a monster season next year. Stay tuned.
Jarrett Stephens: Stephens didn’t have the best career, but his final season is among the best single seasons in school history. In 1999-00, Stephens was a monster, averaging 18.8 points and 10.5 rebounds a night for the Nittany Lions.
Jamelle Cornley: Cornley was a 6’6″ power forward with a nice low post game who developed an outside shot by the time his career in Happy Valley ended. A two-time All-Big Ten selection, Cornley was one of the leaders of the Penn State squad that won the NIT in 2009. During his Penn State tenure, Cornley averaged 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds a night.
10) Dan Earl: The New Jersey native’s six-year career in Happy Valley was filled with injuries, and he never put up the most eye-popping stats in the world, but he was a great leader, a solid player, and most importantly, a two-time All-Big Ten selection. He led the team to a No. 9 ranking nationally in 1995-96, and returned to Penn State from 2006-11 as an assistant coach.
9) Geary Claxton: If he stays healthy his senior year, Claxton is possibly one of the five best in school history. Unfortunately, he tore his left ACL during his senior season — one in which he was averaging 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds a night — and his career ended early. You can certainly argue, however, that his career averages of 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game warrant inclusion into the top five.
8) Frank Brickowski: Brickowski’s Penn State career was nice — he averaged 12.1 points and 7.1 rebounds a game his junior and senior years — but he was most well-known because of his career as a professional, and he very well could be the greatest Penn Stater in NBA history.
7) Pete Lisicky: Lisicky lit it up during his tenure at Penn State, retiring with the second most career points in school history. His list of accolades doesn’t stop there, as Lisicky made the postseason three times as a player — the NCAA Tournament once, and the NIT twice — was an All-Big Ten selection three times, and an All-American honorable mention once. He lit the opposition up from all over the court, but especially from behind the arc, as he made an astounding 332 shots from downtown in his career, which is among the most in conference history.
6) Tim Frazier: Maybe Frazier hops into the top five with a monster performance that brings Penn State a CBI championship. However, his modest ranking should not take away from the amazing career he has put together. After being, for better or worse, Talor Battle’s understudy for two years, Frazier established himself as one of the best point guards in America, going for 18.8 points, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 steals a night as a junior, making him the second college basketball player to ever accomplish that feat. He was an All-Big Ten selection, and Big Ten All-Defensive selection. Despite missing a year due to an injury, Frazier will go down as one of the most decorated Nittany Lions of all time, and Penn State’s all-time assists leader with 638 (and counting) career dimes.
5) John Amaechi: If only Amaechi had spent his whole career in Happy Valley. After transferring from Vanderbilt, Amaechi tore through the Big Ten, averaging 15.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game as a Nittany Lion. Of course, Amaechi is better known for his off the court excellence, as he was named a two-time Academic All-American. Most notably, Amaechi was the first NBA player to go public with his sexuality in 2007, and has since become a champion for gay rights.
4) Calvin Booth: There is no debate that Calvin Booth is the greatest shot blocker in Penn State history. To illustrate this, here’s a quick statistic: as a team, Penn State has blocked 154 shots this season. In 1997-98, Booth blocked 140 shots on his own. Booth was more than just a shot blocker, though, as 11.2 points and 6.3 rebounds a night during his four years in Happy Valley.
3) Joe Crispin: Ideally, Joe Crispin is what Graham Woodward eventually turns into. A 6’0″ guard with a lighting quick release and absolutely no conscious from behind the arc, Crispin was magic when he got hot, canning 42.3 percent of the threes he took in his career. Crispin averaged 15.6 points per game as a Nittany Lion, but it was his senior campaign that was the most memorable. In his last year at Penn State, Crispin averaged an absurd 19.5 points per game, and helped lead the Nittany Lions to the Sweet 16, featuring an upset over powerhouse North Carolina.
2) Talor Battle: There were many things to love about Talor Battle: the fact that he won a ton of games, his gaudy statistics, those pull ups from 10 feet behind the three point line that he’d magically swish, the three or four moments a game where he would make you go “how the hell did he do that?” It’s a long list. However, the most amazing thing about Battle was when he would decide Penn State wasn’t going to lose, and he did everything in his power to win. The Nittany Lions didn’t always win, but Battle would always leave it all on the court, and the numbers back him up. He is Penn State’s all time leading scorer (2,213 points), and left Happy Valley as the first player in Big Ten history to accumulate 2,000 career points, 500 career rebounds, and 500 career assists.
1) Jesse Arnelle: There is zero debate — Jesse Arnelle is the greatest athlete in Penn State history. He was a basketball All-American, a football All-American honorable mention, and led Penn State to the only Final Four in school history. He is second all time in points (2,138), and is Penn State’s all-time leader in rebounds (1,238). Arnelle was an NFL and NBA Draft pick, a professional basketball player, a Harlem Globetrotter, and most importantly, a champion of the Civil Rights Movement. After 45 years of service, Arnelle recently withdrew from the upcoming Penn State Board of Trustees elections.
Are there any other basketball players you believe are worthy of inclusion on this list? Let us know in the comments.