A Guide To Penn State Hoops’ Transfer Portal Targets

Penn State men’s basketball has a lot of work to do to fill up its roster for the 2023-24 season. While new head coach Mike Rhoades has already secured commitments from former VCU players Ace Baldwin Jr. and Nick Kern, as well as Temple forward Zach Hicks, the Nittany Lions only have six roster spots filled for the upcoming season.

Rhoades has also been working hard to retain as many players as possible from last season. Sophomores Kanye Clary and Jameel Brown recently announced they’re staying with the program, and while sophomore Demetrius Lilley has not formally announced whether he’s staying or leaving, the expectation is that he will stay.

With plenty of space open on Penn State’s roster, we compiled a list of potential transfer portal targets, as well a potential high school recruit, that Rhoades and staff could bring to Happy Valley.

Qudus Wahab, Georgetown

Qudus Wahab visited Penn State over the weekend, according to Jon Rothstein. The 6’11” center would bring a huge presence to the frontcourt, which is something the Nittany Lions have lacked in recent years. In his four-year career, he has averaged 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds.

While Wahab is transferring from Georgetown, he has Big Ten experience from one season at Maryland. He struggled to find his footing with the Terrapins, only averaging seven points and five rebounds per game. With more experience, and no Zach Edey or Kofi Cockburn to guard, he may have more success in the Big Ten this time around.

Puff Johnson, North Carolina

The news that Puff Johnson was visiting Penn State took social media by storm. This was mainly because his name is fantastic, but it was also because of his potential on the court. In three seasons at UNC, Johnson averaged 3.1 points and nearly two rebounds per game. These low numbers have nothing to do with his talent and everything to do with being on a stacked Tar Heels roster.

Johnson’s potential is very intriguing. He is long and tall for a guard at 6’8″. He is very similar to Penn State’s Evan Mahaffey, though, he doesn’t have Mahaffey’s explosiveness. He does come from an NBA family, however, as his brother Cam Johnson plays for the Brooklyn Nets. Johnson is also from Moon Township, Pennsylvania, so being closer to home is also on the table. This could be a really sneaky get for Rhoades as he tries to add more experience to the roster.

Noah Thomasson, Niagara

Penn State has been targeting Noah Thomasson for a while now. The 6’3″ guard would provide an immediate offensive weapon to support Baldwin and Hicks, the team’s best current scorers. Thomasson averaged 12.1 points per game over the course of his three-year career but broke out last season while averaging 19.5 points per game and shooting 48% from the field.

It is starting to look as if Thomasson is leaning in other directions, however. He has scheduled visits with San Francisco, St. John’s, and Georgia, and Penn State has not tried to get him on campus yet. He also has heard from Pitt and Oklahoma State, however, they both have picked up other guards in the transfer portal that play a similar style of basketball to Thomasson. If the Nittany Lions want a chance to bring him to Happy Valley, they better do so quickly.

Ze’Rik Onyema, UTEP

Ze’Rik Onyema is an almost identical match to Puff Johnson. They are both tall and lanky guards who have not played a lot of basketball in their collegiate careers but have shown how good they can be in certain moments. Onyema is the better scorer of the two, averaging 7.1 points per game last season in 31 games as a starter. His size has to be what is appealing to Rhoades, and he would be a huge asset to have on the roster.

The issue is that it seems Onyema would like to stay in the Southwest. The four visits he has lined up include Vanderbilt, Texas Tech, Ole Miss, and Texas. It’s unlikely the Nittany Lions could pull him from the South, which is why they have more than likely shifted their target to Johnson. With that said, they still have interest in him, and the relationship could develop to the point that Onyema winds up in Happy Valley for a visit.

Great Osobor, Montana State

Great Osobor is similar to the big men that the Nittany Lions traditionally get — tough and physical but smaller for a frontcourt player. That said, the 6’8″ forward would be the face of the gritty style of play fans have become accustomed to seeing. He averaged 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season at Montana State.

There hasn’t been a lot of movement on where Osobor could go. Several schools have reached out to him, and he seems to be taking some time in figuring out where he wants to visit. If Penn State could pair Osobor with Wahab, then it may have as strong of a frontcourt as it has seen in a very long time.

Brady Dunlap, High School

Penn State having the opportunity to bring in a freshman seemed very unlikely after Micah Shrewsberry bolted for Notre Dame. However, Brady Dunlap has given the Nittany Lions hope by listing them as one of his top five teams. The three-star forward would have an immediate impact on the court and would give Rhoades a lot of momentum on the recruiting trail.

All that said, fans should not get their hopes up. It seems like Penn State is last on the list, which includes UNC, Villanova, and St. John’s. Dunlap should be on campus at some point for a visit, but the coaching staff will have to wow him to sway him to stay in Happy Valley.

Evan Mahaffey, Penn State

This is something to just keep an eye on. It seems Rhoades values the archetype that Mahaffey fits, and that could bode well for his return. It is unclear where he is at in his recruitment, but he is definitely more likely to come back than Kebba Njie, who appears to be nearly a lock to follow Shrewsberry to Notre Dame.

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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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