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Penn State Hoops 2021-22 Season Preview

To say that it has been a wild offseason for Penn State men’s basketball would be an understatement. There are new coaches, new players, and a new atmosphere in Happy Valley, and it all goes back to the hiring of Micah Shrewsberry as the Nittany Lions’ new head coach.

Since arriving, Shrewsberry has brought in an experienced coaching staff and dipped into the transfer portal. Five players have been brought in from other universities. Shrewsberry has also done a good job of retaining key players like John Harrar, Seth Lundy, Sam Sessoms, and Myles Dread.

In a loaded conference, there’s still a good chance Penn State winds up closer to the bottom of the Big Ten standings. However, new talent offers a lot to get excited about as tip-off grows ever closer.

Let’s take a look at how the roster has turned out:

Guards

Penn State’s guards are probably the strongest part of the team. Dread, if he can be more consistent, is a major threat from behind the arc. Sessoms also has that toughness that makes him dangerous to play against. If both players show constant improvement, they will be huge assets to this new-look team.

The two newcomers, Jalen Pickett and Jaheam Cornwall, are expected to have huge roles right off the bat. Both are impact transfers, and their commitments were highly praised by the media.

Pickett is the crown jewel of this transfer class. He landed at No. 78 on ESPN’s Newcomer Rankings, and he was Rookie and Player of the Year for Siena in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, respectively. He is a pure scorer who previously averaged 15 points and six assists per game, and he should be a big challenge for teams to guard.

Cornwall, meanwhile has the potential to be one of the biggest steals of transfer season. He was electric from behind the arc for Gardner-Webb, making 42% of three-pointers attempted over his career. He also averaged 10 points and three assists per game over four seasons. If he can bring that threat to Happy Valley, he’ll quickly add value.

Caleb Dorsey and Dallion Johnson will also have opportunities to carve out big roles for this Penn State team. They had very limited playing time last season, and it is unclear how Shrewsberry plans to utilize them. Playing with a short bench is tough, so they could very well see the court for more than just a minute at a time.

Forwards

It is difficult to predict how well the forwards are going to do for Penn State. Obviously, there are two sure bets in Harrar and Lundy. But how Greg Lee, Jevonnie Scott, and Jalanni White play remains to be seen.

Harrar will still be expected to be the heart and soul of the Nittany Lions. And while he seems ready to take on that challenge, the reality is that he can’t do that alone. That’s where Lundy is going to have to step up.

We have seen Lundy be the best player on the floor, and we have forgotten that he was on the floor in the same season. He has to be more consistent if Penn State is going to have any kind of success this season. His big-play ability will be a big reason that this team will win games, he’s just going to have to show that he still has it moving forward.

Lee is an interesting addition to the team because he fits the Harrar mold. For the first three years of his college career, he averaged five points and three rebounds. Then, he transferred to Western Michigan and had a career year, averaging 13 points and 7.2 rebounds.

It’s unclear which Lee fans will see, but it will be some time before they will see him take the court. Lee has been ruled out for at least the first few games of the season with an injury.

Scott and White are even harder to predict, however. Scott played at the JUCO level last season and is stuck in some NCAA red tape that may hold him out for a considerable amount of time. When he gets back on the court, he has the athleticism that could make him a fun player to watch.

White is tough and gritty. The expectation will be that he plays the role Harrar had back when Mike Watkins was the starter. He may not produce a lot on the stat sheet — he averaged just five points and 2.6 rebounds a game over four years at Canisius — but his contributions will be noticed and welcomed.

Projected Starting Lineup

G: Jaheam Cornwall
G: Jalen Pickett
G: Myles Dread
F: Seth Lundy
F: John Harrar


Penn State’s season begins at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10, with a home matchup against Youngstown State. Fans at home can catch it live on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey is a senior from Annapolis, Maryland, majoring in secondary education and minoring in social justice in education. When he is not writing for the blog, he enjoys rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor", and yes mom, actually doing school work. If you would like to talk about sports or "Survivor", the best way to reach out is on Twitter @theowenabbey. All other compliments may be sent to [email protected]

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