A Fresh Face: How Josh Reaves Can Impact Men’s Basketball
There’s been a changing of the guard on the hardwood in Happy Valley. With the program losing some key players during the offseason — namely D.J. Newbill — fresh faces have an opportunity to create a name for themselves. Among those fresh faces is Josh Reaves, the jewel of Pat Chambers’ 2015 recruiting class.
The additions and subtractions experienced by the program were drastic. D.J. Newbill, Geno Thorpe, and Ross Travis all moved on from Penn State, while Mike Watkins, Isaiah Washington, and Josh Reaves entered this year to carry the torch. With Watkins sidelined for the season due to NCAA ineligibility and Washington’s role on the bench likely cemented with Shep Garner occupying the backcourt, Reaves will likely receive the most action early on in his career. The first game of the season against VMI saw Reaves get the nod at shooting guard, marking the second year in a row a true freshman was in the starting lineup for the inaugural game.
Against VMI, Reaves intercepted a pass and slammed a dunk at the opposite end just 10 seconds into his collegiate career. The freshman sensation continued to terrorize the Keydets with another steal immediately after, setting the tone for the afternoon with his aggressive play. He flashed his versatility on both sides of the court as he accounted for six points, five rebounds, two steals, and three blocks.
His play on both ends created a spark that allowed Penn State climb from its initial hole and handily defeat VMI. Reaves looked great in his first game, but how will he impact the program for the rest of the season and beyond?
Reaves will be counted on as Penn State’s athletic playmaker, filling a key role left void by his predecessors. Newbill was able to make plays and swing the momentum in favor of the Nittany Lions. It’s the same kind of innate ability that Reaves possesses. Penn State still has veterans like Brandon Taylor and Garner to rely on, but the Lions need glue to hold the team’s framework together. He’s only two games into his career, so any direct comparisons to Newbill are purely based on knee-jerk reactions and the time-honored eye test.
Another factor on Reaves’ side is time: Reaves has the time to develop and become the player Penn State needs when the loaded 2016 class arrives. With youth usually comes inconsistency, so an experienced player is always a must for growing programs. By then Penn State should have a seasoned leader in Reaves, who’ll be ready to lead younger players like Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens.
Reaves provides Penn State men’s basketball with unique talent and an opportunity. The talent obviously being the spark he can provide on the court — his athleticism and aggressive style, but also the opportunity of being the primary building block in Pat Chambers’ master plan. Ultimately, the freshman guard will start in the backcourt this season where he’ll get the chance to learn the system and how to play at the college pace. The hope is that he develops Penn State’s go-to guy, but only time will tell if that hope actually becomes reality.
Right now, it seems like Reaves could potentially be this team’s superstar, but he’ll have to continue to be the spark the Nittany Lions need night in and night out. If Reaves continues his encouraging play throughout the season, he could make a strong case for being the player to lead the program’s revitalization.