News & Notes From Penn State Hoops’ Intra-Squad Scrimmage

Despite Penn State men’s basketball just starting its fall practice schedule, things seem to be looking up for the program. Head coach Micah Shrewsberry is in his second year at the helm, and he has plenty of young talent at his disposal.

Over the weekend, Shrewsberry spoke to the media about his team and what the group has been building over the course of the summer. He spoke on Jalen Pickett, the freshmen’s impact so far, and how the team is filling the void John Harrar left behind.

Afterward, the media had the opportunity to watch the team scrimmage against each other, which featured a standout performance from freshman Kebba Njie.

On Jalen Pickett And His Evolution

After transferring in from Siena, Pickett developed into a star for the Nittany Lions last season. So much so that he was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. Shrewsberry has high expectations for his fifth-year guard, who aims to be a leader on the team.

“He started off a little slow last year, and I don’t know if it was the transition or what. It did take time for us to get in sync,” Shrewsberry said. “But, you can see now how comfortable he is and his teammates, and he’s worked at a really high level.”

Over the summer, Pickett stayed back on campus to take classes and work out. Shrewsberry notes that this extra level of dedication has really had an impact on his game.

“He’s playing at a really high level right now. If you polled everyone around the office, they’d say he is hands down the best basketball player we have,” the head coach added.

On The Freshmen’s Impact

Penn State has five true freshmen on its roster for this season, each of whom are projected to have very different roles on the team. Each newcomer has shown flashes of how high their potential is, according to Shrewsberry, and that could lead to some exciting gameplay in the future.

Take Jameel Brown for instance. Shrewsberry had nothing but great things to say about the guard from Philadelphia and the impact he’s had on the team throughout practice.

“We keep track of every competitive drill we did in the fall and the wins and losses. He was number one on the list in terms of wins,” Shrewsberry said. “He wasn’t the leading scorer, but with every team he was on, they won.”

Overall, Shrewsberry notes the five young stars are a humble, hard-working group of guys, and each one could make a big splash when November rolls around.

On John Harrar’s Void

John Harrar was a one-of-a-kind player. One could argue he was the hardest-working player in program history, though, no one could argue that he wasn’t one of the biggest leaders in program history. His work ethic inspired his teammates and made them play better.

But, Harrar is gone now, and the leadership void has now opened up. Penn State mainstays like Myles Dread and Seth Lundy have stepped up, as have Pickett and new transfers like Camren Wynter and Andrew Funk. And while no one can do exactly what Harrar did, they can at least try to live up to the standard he set.

“Our captains have set the tone for what we want our freshmen to do, and they have fallen in line,” Shrewsberry said. “It started with doing extra stuff to be prepared to practice and play. When we finish practice, every guy stays after to get extra shots up and work on their game.”

That culture that Harrar built still lives on within the program, and that could mean some more “gritty, not pretty” wins in the future.

Key Moments From The Scrimmage

The Nittany Lions had some impressive performances during the scrimmage. Freshman Kebba Njie had a fantastic start, scoring six points in seven minutes almost effortlessly. He was also on a team with Pickett, Dread, and Wynter, all three of which are prolific scorers in their own right. He could be an x-factor down low when the season begins.

The other key aspect of note was the accuracy from behind the arc. Six different shooters combined to make six consecutive threes over the course of four minutes. While relying on the three may not be the best strategy for every game, knowing there are so many weapons available is exciting.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed 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. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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