What The Recruiting Class of 2016 Means For The Future Of Penn State Basketball
Penn State basketball has had a few highs and plenty of lows for its fan base, especially in recent years. The most recent highs come from the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance in a decade, in 2011, and the star players that have graced the program, like Taylor Battle, Tim Frazier, and D.J. Newbill. The lows come from its inconsistency and the misfortune of matching up poorly in a strong conference.
With the loss of the team’s latest star player, D.J. Newbill, the basketball program is in an odd situation. No player stands out on the team, there’s no clear direction for 2015, and ticket prices have dipped so much that student admission for non-conference games is free. Along with the roster and attendance, the time that head coach Pat Chambers had left was also in question, but the Class of 2016 should change that.
Since Penn State fell to Purdue in the Big Ten quarterfinal in March, Pat Chambers and his staff signed four impressive recruits to make an immediate impact on the program. The recruiting class has gotten better as the year has progressed, as the current class consists of two four-star recruits, Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens, and two three-star recruits, Nazeer Bostick and Joe Hampton. Along with the caliber of recruits, three of the four players — Carr, Stevens, and Bostick — come from the same high school, Roman Catholic High School.
Philadelphia has been no stranger to Penn State basketball lately. Four players from last year’s squad — D.J. Newbill, John Johnson, Julian Moore, and Shep Garner — came from the City of Brotherly Love, with Garner also coming from Roman Catholic. With the increasing number of its recruits committing to Penn State, Chambers and his staff seem to be creating a bridge between the Philadelphia high school and Happy Valley. This could create the most amazing playing environment, in terms of caliber and chemistry, that the program has ever seen.
The Class of 2016 gives Penn State recruiting opportunities that weren’t as evident in the past, thanks to its newly formed relationship with Roman Catholic. Penn State is more desirable to Roman Catholic recruits, allowing them the option to play alongside their friends and former teammates. The bridge between Penn State and Roman Catholic could create a cycle that would keep providing Penn State with talented recruits in the future. It started with Garner in 2014, and will continue with Carr, Stevens, and Bostick.
This trio should also cause more Philadelphia recruits to view Penn State as an attractive option. Philadelphia programs, such as Villanova and Temple, have always been the popular picks for Philly’s basketball scene, but landing Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens may have changed things. The respective No. 1 and 2 recruits in Pennsylvania chose the Nittany Lions over other top programs, which will create more appeal for Penn State basketball.
Pat Chambers’ future also benefits from the Class of 2016. A 56-75 record in a four-year span is usually enough to get a coach fired, but Chambers was given a final chance with a two-year extension in March, and is changing the future of Penn State basketball.
Since his extension, Chambers has brought in the recruits to make the best recruiting class in program history, in terms of rankings. 247 Sports currently has the Class of 2016 ranked ninth in the country, which is the second-highest ranking in the Big Ten. The potential of the 2016 recruits could bring Penn State to new heights, along with Pat Chamber’s career at Penn State.
The 2016 recruiting class will increase the talent of the program heading into the 2016-17 season, but it will also increase the popularity and hopes of its fan base. Even though 2016 is a year away, Penn State basketball needs to plan for one of its biggest rebuilding seasons. The program will lose Brandon Taylor, Donovon Jack, Devin Foster, and Jordan Dickerson, leaving gaps at three starting positions. The incoming class will have to fill those gaps immediately, but if its potential is true, then there should be no problem.
The youth and promise coming in to the program will get fans excited, and a revived fan base is what Penn State basketball needs. An increase in talent translates to increased attendance, which would generate a more electric atmosphere at the Bryce Jordan Center — and could make the difference between a win or a loss at home. This sequence would all be initiated with the arrival of the 2016 recruits.
Currently sitting at No. 9 in the country, the Class of 2016 is touted as the best recruiting class in Penn State history. The bridge that has formed between Roman Catholic and Penn State could provide the Nittany Lions with top recruits in the future. Its potential can do a lot for a struggling team, and it can bring Penn State one step closer to finally being a contender once again.