Trio Of Philly Freshmen Ready To Take Penn State Hoops To The Next Level
Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, and Nazeer Bostick: Remember these names, Penn State hoops fans. These three highlight coach Pat Chambers’ urgency to recruit the best of the best from the City of Brotherly Love — and they’re part of Penn State basketball’s best recruiting class in recent memory.
Carr and Stevens were ranked first and third, respectively, among players in Pennsylvania — each with a four star rating from ESPN. They were also on the top-100 list in the national rankings for the class of 2016. Bostick was the seventh ranked player in Pennsylvania with a three star rating from ESPN.
This trio of freshmen hails from Roman Catholic High School, where it won back-to-back PIAA state titles together over the past two years. Now it’s in Happy Valley, ready to replicate its success at Roman. Surprisingly, the freshmen’s decisions to commit to Penn State weren’t planned like the Big 3 in Miami in 2010.
“It just ended up that we all wanted to come here,” Stevens said. “This place felt like home to all of us, so it was something that just happened. We never recruited each other, but we all knew where we wanted to be and that was Penn State.”
Carr shared a similar sentiment — there wasn’t much collaboration between the three of them leading up to their decisions. “We never really talked about it. We tried to let each other enjoy each individual’s recruiting process. Penn State was always high on my list. And then the opportunity that I could go there with my two high school teammates made it much easier,” he said.
These three have been playing together since before their Cahillite days. Not only did they play on the same high school team, but they also played on two different AAU teams together growing up. They played for Triple Threat when they were younger. Then they went on to play for Team Final, which is part of the Nike EYBL circuit, where they had even more success on the court. There’s definitely some excitement from them knowing they’re putting on the same uniform once again.
Nevertheless, they’re all pretty hyped it ended up this way. “Playing with them at this level means a lot,” Bostick said. “They’re my brothers. We’ve been through a lot together, so it should be fun again.”
Stevens acknowledged the amount of work they’ve put in together, but knows it doesn’t stop here. “We spent a lot of days in high school just working out, spent a lot of hours in the gym. Just being able to accomplish one of our goals to play Division 1 basketball at a prestigious school like Penn State, it’s an accomplishment,” Stevens said. “We’re proud of each other, but we want to keep working and keep getting better.”
Being together in State College has made the transition much easier for them. Moving from Philadelphia to State College is certainly a big change, and they’re happy they are able to do it together.
“It makes [the transition] much easier. Just being with them every day like I’m used to back at home and taking on the trials and tribulations of being a freshman at a big university with them makes it easier,” Carr said.
The three freshmen aren’t the only Roman Catholic alumni on the roster for this season. Junior guard Shep Garner was also a Cahillite who graduated in 2014. Garner serves as a mentor to the younger players and said he helps them with whatever questions they have for him. He also played a small role in helping them commit to Penn State.
“I was talking to all three of them. My parents know their parents so it was basically a family thing,” Garner said. “When they came up here, it was like a family atmosphere. I knew they were going to love it because I did.”
With the new uptempo pace Chambers wants to play at, players like Carr and Stevens will prove valuable to the program with their collective size, athleticism, and versatility. Carr will help take some of the pressure off Garner in the backcourt, for one. Garner is no longer going to be required to play 37 minutes per game like last year, as Chambers noted on media day — a relief for a team looking to run the floor like Penn State wants to do.
Having a true point guard with the size that Carr does is so crucial to success at this level. Look at the previous NCAA champions from recent years. They all have one thing in common — exceptional point guard play when it matters most. A talented point guard in the Big Ten can help control the game and get the team into its sets on offense. If the Nittany Lions want to push the pace, an athletic point guard is going to help them get to their goal of 80 points per game — one Chambers explicitly set. Carr can help bring athleticism to the point guard position and should rack up a good amount of assists in transition this year.
Stevens is a versatile player with the ability to play multiple positions on the floor. The 6’7″ freshman has been moved all over the place by the coaches. Chambers noted he could even play the five at times this year if need be. He also raved about Stevens, saying he’s been a very coachable player so far and has been looking strong and shooting the ball well during practice. He best summed Stevens up as a “ball player,” point blank. The athletic forward will most likely make some highlight reel plays during the course of the season — just check out this dunk from the Blue White Showcase:
— Alex Cawley (@Cawley_WTAJ) October 16, 2016
It’s definitely time to get on board with the hoops squad. The Roman Catholic freshmen are likely to make an immediate impact this year for Penn State. It’s going to be fun watching this team grow together and to see what these guys can do on the floor. The Nittany Lions open the season with a scrimmage Nov. 4 against Lock Haven at University Park.