An Updated Outlook For Penn State Hoops Following Recent Roster Moves
Penn State men’s basketball shuffled its roster by making a few different moves last week, including the addition of an exciting graduate transfer as the 2019-20 season approaches.
The first domino fell last Wednesday afternoon when the team announced rising sophomore wingman Daniil Kasatkin was leaving the program to pursue a professional career in his home country, Russia.
Kasatkin played in three total games as a freshman last season, registering only eight minutes for the Nittany Lions. With returning contributors Myles Dread and Kyle McCloskey still ahead of Kasatkin in the rotation and the new additions of forwards Seth Lundy and Patrick Kelly, there didn’t seem to be many opportunities in the near future for the U20 Russian National Team member.
Lundy hails from what has essentially become Penn State’s feeder school, Roman Catholic. He became a three-star prospect and the team’s highest-rated recruit in its 2019 class. The 6’8″ Kelly arrives on campus from IMG Academy in Florida. His body type and play style are very similar to Trent Buttrick when he was an incoming freshman.
That’s four players who were all more likely to see time at the “3” role this year over the 6’7″ Kasatkin. It seems like the right move for all parties involved — especially after he helped the U20 Russian team advance to the semi-finals of the 2019 FIBA U20 European Championship.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Pat Chambers and Co. officially flipped that roster spot into Oklahoma State grad transfer Curtis Jones Jr. Jones has already transferred once before. He went to Stillwater after playing in 40 career games at Indiana during the first two years of his collegiate career.
Jones Jr. actually recorded 25 minutes over the course of two games against Penn State during his freshman season, scoring four points in a 78-75 win at the Bryce Jordan Center in January before an 11-minute, scoreless performance during the 110-102 triple-overtime thriller won by Indiana in Bloomington.
After averaging 3.4 points per game to go along with 1.3 rebounds during his first two seasons, Jones Jr. jumped up to 8.1 points and three rebounds per contest in the 23 games he played in for the Cowboys last season. He scored in double-digits eight times, including a career-high 23 points in his second game for Oklahoma State against Central Arkansas. Jones Jr. also added 19 points off the bench in a near-upset against then-No. 15 Kansas last March as the Jayhawks prevailed 72-67.
The only red flag that sticks out when scouting Jones Jr. is his shooting efficiency. The senior’s career splits are 33.7% from the field, 32.3% from beyond the arc, and 67.2 percent from the free-throw line.
He can score in loads when he’s on, but when Jones Jr. is cold, he’s cold. In the 63 games where the grad transfer has taken at least 10 shot attempts, he’s shot above 40 percent only three times. Still, Jones Jr. brings experience from both the Big 12 and the Big Ten to this team, and that’s a huge addition to a backcourt that needs a steady hand.
Jones Jr. should immediately compete for a starting role at guard. Jamari Wheeler, Dread, Myreon Jones, and Izaiah Brockington all vie for minutes in the Nittany Lions’ backcourt. With a rotation of Wheeler-Jones Jr.-Dread-Stevens-Watkins and the group of Harrar, Brockington, Buttrick, Lundy, McCloskey, and Kelly off the bench, this is actually one of the deeper groups that Pat Chambers has had during his tenure with the program.
After a small carousel of changes, there is room for excitement with two months left until the beginning of the season. The Nittany Lions will open the 2019-20 season at home against Maryland-Eastern Shore at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5. You can find that game on BTN Plus.
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