Pat Chambers Discusses Penn State Hoops’ Season, Team’s Future On ESPN Radio

Penn State men’s basketball head coach Pat Chambers joined Steve Jones on State College’s ESPN radio show Wednesday afternoon to recap the 2019-2020 season and discuss where the team is headed.

Chambers got emotional at times while discussing how he and the rest of the team are grieving the season’s devastating end, but he maintained an overall optimistic and hopeful attitude. He carried a great sense of pride about what the team has achieved the past few seasons and is even more excited about the team and the program moving forward.

Although most of the show was focused on the program as a whole, Jones opened things up by asking Chambers about Lamar Stevens. Jones questioned if it was fair to say that Stevens was to Chambers what Saquon Barkley was to James Franklin and Penn State football.

“I think that would be more than fair,” Chambers said. “Lamar and I have an incredible relationship, more like father-son than coach-player.”

Chambers also emphasized how special Stevens is regarding community involvement and showcasing intelligence and humility both on and off the court.

“Sometimes kids like that only come by once in a lifetime…But there’s only gonna be one Lamar Stevens, and he’s gonna go down as I would think the greatest player in Penn State history,” Chambers said.

Jones agreed, adding that Stevens was the “best 40-minute player [he’s] seen at Penn State.”

Although Chambers could likely reminisce on Steven’s program impact for hours, the discussion quickly moved to how the team was dealing is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, both academically and athletically.

“This is going to be very challenging for all of us,” Chambers said. “That’s why communication is key. We’ve already done a bunch of Zooms, we’ve already contacted the seniors to finish strong, talked to families…just to make sure we have a good plan in place…The core of the team is excelling in the classroom.”

Athletically, Chambers is very happy with the trajectory that the team is on. The Nittany Lions had their best season since 2011 this year and have a strong core set of both talented young players and seasoned veterans returning next year.

“We’re a national program now,” Chambers asserted. “The exposure, the ability to recruit — we’re talking to kids we might not have had a shot at maybe in past years. The talent that we have currently in the program really fires me up for the future… We have [Myreon Jones] coming back, and Myles [Dread] coming back, Jamari Wheeler, John [Harrar], Izaiah Brockington…I think they’re going to be hungry for more.”

Chambers also reflected on how the high AP Top 25 rankings and overall success this past season has been huge for the program.

“We were the hunted, people were hunting us. The script totally flipped,” he added. “There were only a few teams that were able to win eight straight games.”

Although Chambers is excited about future recruiting for the program, that doesn’t mean he isn’t confident with the 2020 recruiting class coming in next year.

“[Dallion Johnson] had an unbelievable year. I would imagine that when the final rankings come out, he’s gonna be a top-100 and easily a four-star player,” Chambers said. “[Caleb] Dorsey, you’re gonna love him. Already a Big Ten body who can play off a ball screen…And then DJ Gordon, 6’4″- 6’5″ if he was on the team this year. I think that was the missing piece.”

Chambers added he is very happy with the makeup of the team heading into next year, staying on an older trajectory while still bringing in and developing young talent. He noted that Penn State is still constantly recruiting, whether it be via FaceTime calls or Zoom meetings to stay connected with recruits. Not being able to have those important face-to-face conversations is a new challenge, but Chambers is trying his best to move forward with the program in the face of a global pandemic.

But that doesn’t mean he and the rest of the team haven’t been grieving the premature and abrupt end to the season.

“It’s been exciting once I got over the grief,” Chambers said. “I was grieving, I’m still grieving, I’m still devastated, and it’s been hard for me, really hard. We put everything into this program over the last nine years- I’m getting emotional now- we put so much into it and to not hear your name and to not see these kids get their wristband or pin and to walk through that arena and to hear you’re a fifth or sixth seed and playing whoever… man, it just steals your joy.”

Chambers knows he has to be a new type of leader now, and push the team forward in the face of devastation and heartbreak. But, he’s still proud of what they accomplished and looks forward to running it back next year.

“You can’t diminish or take away what this group did. We’re still gonna celebrate because we did make the NCAA tournament.”

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected].

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