A Way-Too-Early Look At Penn State Hoops’ 2020-2021 Roster
Penn State men’s basketball is coming off a season where it was ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll for the first time since 1996. Climbing as high as No. 9 at one point during the season, the Nittany Lions were a lock for the NCAA Tournament before it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When looking ahead to the 2020-21 season, Penn State will lose some key pieces. Seniors Lamar Stevens, Mike Watkins, and Curtis Jones Jr. move on to greener pastures, leaving the Nittany Lions with some pretty big shoes to fill.
Although the Nittany Lions will lose some big-name talent, Pat Chambers and Co. have four incoming freshmen who will attempt to make an immediate impact. It’s never too early to fire up some predictions, though. Without further ado, here’s how we envision the team’s new-look lineup.
- G Myreon Jones (JR)
- G Jamari Wheeler (SR)
- G Izaiah Brockington (SR)
- F Seth Lundy (SO)
- F John Harrar (SR)
Myreon Jones was the second-leading scorer this past season behind Lamar Stevens with 13.3 points per game, meaning he’ll likely be relied on to step up in the latter’s absence. Seth Lundy came in as a freshman and impressed with his three-point ability and shot 39% from downtown. Jamari Wheeler and John Harrar were starters for the majority of last season and will presumably step right back into that role this upcoming season.
Wheeler and Harrar bring a strong defensive presence to the starting lineup and consistently bring energy to that end of the court. Neither will provide much offensively, however. Harrar averaged 4.3 points per game last season, while Wheeler averaged 3.8.
The last spot in the starting lineup seems to be up in the air between Izaiah Brockington and Myles Dread. Both players played significant minutes for Pat Chambers last season, but Brockington seems to be a better fit due to his shot-creating ability and efficiency.
Dread is more of a spot-up shooter, while Brockington can put the ball on the floor and make something happen at a more efficient rate. Dread’s efficiency last season is a concern, as he shot just 34% from the field and 32% from three. With Jones and Lundy already in the lineup, it seems Dread’s best fit is to lead the second unit.
- G Myles Dread (JR)
- F Trent Buttrick (SR)
- F Valdir Manuel (FR)
Behind Myles Dread, the Nittany Lions’ bench is wide open. Binghamton transfer Sam Sessoms likely won’t be eligible to play this year and Kyle McCloskey entered the transfer portal, leaving opportunity for the rest of the team. For most of the 2019-20 season, Pat Chambers’ rotation went nine players deep. If he goes with the same gameplan this upcoming season, that leaves four spots in the rotation open.
Trent Buttrick appeared in 16 games for Penn State this past season and averaged just 3.6 minutes a game. With the team lacking height with the loss of Mike Watkins, the 6’8″ forward should have a real opportunity to earn some important minutes.
The same goes for incoming freshman Valdir Manuel, who stands at 6’10”. As we’ve seen before with Seth Lundy, incoming freshmen can come in and make an impact for Chambers’ squad. Don’t be surprised if Manuel, who’s coming from a two-year junior college, cracks the rotation.
Depth/Back-end Rotation Pieces
- F Taylor Nussbaum (SR)
- F Patrick Kelly (SO)
- G Dallion Johnson / G DJ Gordon/ F Caleb Dorsey (FR)
Any of these five could sneak into the back-end of the rotation with a strong showing in practice. As mentioned before, Chambers likes to go with a nine-man rotation. With Dread, Buttrick, and Manuel looking like strong bets for the rotation, that leaves one spot left if Chambers opts to go with the same strategy as last season.
Taylor Nussbaum and Patrick Kelly didn’t see much playing time at all last season, but they will have a chance this season to change that with the open spots in the rotation. The three freshmen — Dallion Johnson, DJ Gordon, and Caleb Dorsey — are relative unknowns and could impress early on and crack the initial rotation.
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About the Author
The Nittany Lions moved up in the rankings for the first time this season.
“It was raining and it was still filling up to the brim in the stadium. Their energy is infectious. And I love them and I appreciate all they do for us.”
Penn State’s defense had another near-perfect outing against Iowa on Saturday.