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Kanye Clary’s Breakout Sophomore Season Continues As Penn State Hoops’ Non-Conference Campaign Progresses

While Penn State men’s basketball is only three games into the 2023-24 season, the group has a clear leader through the first week and a half of the season. The leader comes in the form of 5’11 sophomore guard Kanye Clary.

The former three-star recruit was one of former head coach Micah Shrewsberry’s first commitments, and despite Shrewsberry leaving Happy Valley after two years on the job, Clary didn’t follow him. Instead, Clary returned to Penn State to play under Mike Rhoades who had to fill 10 spots on the team.

“When Kanye came back for the summer, he was just all in,” Rhoades said of Clary in October. “He wanted to be here. The style of play he was excited about, and I’ve held him to a high standard. I think he can continue to keep getting better and better.”

Rhoades’ high standards paid dividends thus far as Clary’s begun to show just how much he’s improved.

He’s already set career-highs in every statistic since becoming a starter this season, including dropping 22 points and seven rebounds in the team’s season opener against Delaware State. He followed that performance with a 20-point, three-steal game against Lehigh and dropped 14 points from 50% shooting in the Nittany Lions’ most recent battle with Saint Francis.

“My teammates and my coaches put me in a position to score a lot,” Clary said. “Whether it’s playing in space, ghost screens, or pick and rolls, something I know I’m pretty good at. My teammates do a good job of finding me, so kudos to them.”

While his playing time has increased since last year, his ability to make the most out of his minutes is undeniable. On top of scoring, Clary’s capacity to extend and make plays has been his largest area of improvement from last season to now.

He continues to add more assists each game and find open men down the court, underneath the rim, or at the three-point line, too.

“I just think he’s just gonna keep going [up],” Rhoades said. “I think a year from now, two years from now he’s gonna be so dynamic. He is already. He could shoot it now. He gets by guys anytime he wants. He’s starting to really learn how to read ball screens and making the game easier.”

While his offensive numbers are the majority of what people see, one aspect of his game that has also improved is his defensive awareness and transition into Rhoades’ program.

Within the system Rhoades runs, trapping more players and playing at a faster pace on defense was new to Clary, but he has excelled so far. He’s averaging nearly two steals per game and forces his opponents to make mistakes by either throwing balls away or enacting turnovers.

“I thought his defense was the best of the season,” Rhoades said of Clary after the Saint Francis victory. “I thought his defense was really good, especially off the ball. He’s somebody who’s just learning how to continue to improve.”

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him taking down any Dollar Dog challenge or rewatching the Big Ten Maps Commercial. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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