A Recap Of Penn State Hoops’ Whirlwind Offseason

Fall is in the air in Happy Valley, which means it’s almost time for the long-awaited return of Penn State men’s basketball.

With a fresh head coach and new-look roster in place, there’s lots of buzz surrounding the program, which has historically struggled to make the NCAA Tournament. The Nittany Lions have already sold the most student season tickets in season history, and the team is hosting events around campus to get folks excited for the season.

Thanks to new NCAA transfer portal rules, the offseason felt a bit like a revolving door. We don’t blame you if you couldn’t keep up. So, ahead of the Nittany Lions’ November 10 season opener against Youngstown State, we recapped down all of the program’s offseason moves

Notable Departures

Following the conclusion of Penn State’s 2020-21 season and the hiring of Micah Shrewsberry, eight players entered their names in the transfer portal. Only two — John Harrar and Seth Lundy — withdrew their names and opted to stay in Happy Valley. Four previous scholarship players departed:

  • Myreon Jones opted to head back toward his home state of Alabama and join the Florida Gators. Jones played three seasons at Penn State and was the Nittany Lions’ leading scorer last season. The sharpshooter logged 15.3 points per game and was the team’s best three-point shooter — cashing in nearly 40% of his attempts from behind the arc.
  • Izaiah Brockington ended up at Iowa State after two stints in the transfer portal and a psuedo-recommitemnt to Penn State. The Philadelphia native orginally transferred to Happy Valley from St. Bonaventure, so Ames will be his third collegiate destination. The guard played nearly 30 minutes per game and averaged 12.6 points per game at an impresssive 43% field goal clip.
  • In perhaps the most shocking move of the offseason, Jamari Wheeler transfered to Big Ten rival Ohio State after two weeks in the portal. The gritty, always-hustling senior was the heart and soul of Penn State’s defensive efforts, averaging a team-high 3.5 steals per game last season.

Trent Buttrick (UMass), Abdou Tsimbila (Fordham), and DJ Gordon (Fordham) also found new homes this offseason. Kyle McCloskey and Taylor Nussbaum graduated from Penn State and are no longer on the roster.

The Guys Who Stuck Around

Despite all the departures, Penn State still retains a solid core from last season. While Wheeler, Jones, and Brockington were atop the Nittany Lions’ stat sheet for minutes played, the program was still able to retain some key talent.

  • Big man John Harrar is back for a fifth year in Happy Valley after a short stint in the transfer portal. The King Of Delco has arguably been the face of the program since Lamar Stevens’ NBA departure. He averaged a career-high 8.8 points and rebounds per game last season, while shooting nearly 55% from the field.
  • Seth Lundy also announced his return over the offseason after testing the transfer portal waters. The 6-foot-6 junior was Penn State’s third-highest scorer last season, putting together 10.1 points per game. Lundy also logged 4.2 rebounds per game and shot 39% from the field.
  • Binghamton transfer Sam Sessoms was one of two guys who never entered their name in the portal this offseason. The Philadelphia made an immediate impact on the court under Jim Ferry, playing more than 20 minutes per game and often working his way into the starting lineup. His 40.8 field goal percentage was the second-highest among Penn State’s guards and he often caught fire when it mattered most.
  • Myles Dread also never entered his name in the transfer portal and has been Penn State through and through since 2018. The senior made the second-most three-pointers per game among Nittany Lions last year and shot 35% from behind the arc. He’s also been Penn State’s go-to guy in the clutch, hitting game-winners against VMI, Yale, and Rutgers during his time in Happy Valley

Sophomores Caleb Dorsey, Dallion Johnson, and Andy Christos also return to the team this year after not seeing much time on the court during Ferry’s tenure.

New Faces On The Court

While Shrewsberry convinced a solid core to stick around, he obviously needed to add some depth through the transfer portal. Penn State added five new scholarship players through the portal this offseason.

  • Jaheam Cornwall came up north from Gardner-Webb in North Carolina to join the Nittany Lions. He’s listed as a super senior on Penn State’s roster. The Brooklyn native shot an impressive 42% from beyond the arc during his career in the Big South and started all but one game during his junior and senior campaigns.
  • 6’9″ super senior Greg Lee joined Penn State in June after a solid career for Western Michigan. He logged 13 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in MAC play last season. He secured four double-doubles during his senior campaign and will be a great piece alongside Harrar down low.
  • Jalen Pickett will play his fourth year of college ball in Happy Valley after transferring away from Siena. The Rochester native was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of The Year in 2020 and was All-MAAC all three of his years in the conference. He’s averaged 15 points on 44% shooting over his career and shot 37% from deep his sophomore season.
  • Junior Jevonnie Scott transferred over from South Plains College in April, but Shrewsberry said he’s still working through some NCAA hoops before he can play. The Toronto native originally planned to transfer to Texas A&M but chose Penn State after Shrewsberry was hired. He averaged 9.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in Junior College.
  • Jalanni White was added to Penn State’s roster in late July after four years at Canisius College. The Connecticut native started 11 of 12 games for the Golden Eagles last season, averaging 3.7 points and 2.2 rebounds.

Dan Conlan, Kaylen Oweh, and Ishaan Jagiasi also join Penn State as walk-ons this season. Oweh’s brother, Odafe, played three seasons for Penn State football before joining the Baltimore Ravens as a first-round selection.

A New Coaching Staff

Penn State retains Chief of Staff Nicholas Colella, Assistant Director of Performance Enhancement Greg Miskinis, and Graduate Assistant Bo Waggoner from last year. The rest of Shrewsberry’s 13-man staff is brand new.

  • Head coach Micah Shrewsberry will begin his first year in Happy Valley after spending time with Purdue and the Boston Celtics.
  • Associate head coach Adam Fisher, a Penn State alum, was the first addition to Shrewsberry’s staff and was previosuly an assistant at Miami. He also worked under Jay Wright at Villanova.
  • Assitant coaches Aki Collins and Mike Farrelly are also top dogs under the head coach. Collins was previously with the University of New Mexico and was on the staff of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis, and Marquett throughout his career. Farrelly spent eight seasons with Hofstra before making the switch to Happy Valley.
  • Brian Snow joins the staff as the director of recruiting after four years as a national analyst for 247Sports and CBS Sports. Penn State already has its best recruiting class in program history, so its safe to say he’s been doing a great job so far.

Director of Player Development Mike Green and Assistant to the Head Coach Tre Whitted are also new to Shrewsberry’s staff. Grady Eifert, Justin Pomar, and Josh Townsend are also fresh faces as video coordinators, athletic trainers, and graduate assistants, respectively.

All in all, Penn State returned seven players, added five scholarship players, and gained three walk-ons to round out its 15-man roster. Seven players either transferred or graduated after last season. Including Shrewsberry, 10 new staffers are now a part of the program.

We’ll see what this all looks like when Penn State’s season kicks off on November 10.

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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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