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Evan Mahaffey’s ‘Versatility’ Providing A Spark For Penn State Hoops

After dropping a career-high 12 points during a dominating Penn State men’s basketball win over Indiana last week, Evan Mahaffey summarized his impact in one word: energy.

“Coming off the bench as a freshman, you’re out there to come out and help out those older guys who have been there… So, the main thing I can bring to stay on the court is energy,” Mahaffey said postgame.

Mahaffey logged just 13 minutes but made all his shots, came down with three boards, and provided a much-needed spark off the bench with his dunks, threes, and energy.

“I think my role just keeps going up every game,” Mahaffey said. “Like just being able to do more from my team to help, [and] still doing everything that keeps me on the court: playing defense, getting rebounds, [and] getting steal deflections. So, I’ll just keep on expanding on my role and doing whatever I can to help these guys.”

The Cincinnati native has slowly grown into a crucial piece as of late for the Nittany Lions. After averaging just 8.4 minutes in his first dozen games for Penn State, Mahaffey has since seen his time on the court double since the new year started. Now it’s only been four games, but all against formidable Big Ten opponents: Iowa, Michigan, Purdue, and Indiana.

Since this increased role, the former three-star recruit has increased his point total in every game, shot an average of 76.4 percent from the field, and even made himself a disruptor on defense, collecting five steals and a block.

During Monday’s media availability, head coach Micah Shrewsberry harped on Mahaffey’s versatility and how he’s the model player for what he looks for in recruiting.

“Versatility is one of the key things we’re looking for,” Shrewsberry said. “Obviously, we need skill, but we need versatility. We need skill in a bigger, longer, more athletic package. So, Evan’s kind of the first of the group to be that. He allows us to do more.”

The second-year head coach even noted that the rise of Mahaffey has been a great service to the team when figuring out who can matchup, score, and get stops in a competitive Big Ten conference this season.

“He’s been playing great,” Shrewsberry said. “We need to continue to play at that high level because he is just adding more and more to our team.”

Whether it’s bringing the ball up the court or being a pest of defense, Jalen Pickett acknowledged that Mahaffey’s presence has made his job much easier on the court.

“You see what he does,” Pickett said Monday. “He guards one through five, he blocks shots, he gets steals in the passing lane. Evan is a really great player.”

Pickett explained that he can see Mahaffey’s growth through practice and sees him buying into his role as a freshman on an experienced roster. However, just like all freshmen, he still has a long road ahead and much more to accomplish.

“He’s still learning, he’s still growing,” Pickett said. “We’re still waiting on a couple more of the freshmen to come along so we’re playing our best basketball in March.”

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a senior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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