The Brandon Austin (left) vs. Sheldon Jeter (right) matchup lived up to the billing. (Photo: BSD/Eric)
Not often do highly anticipated athletic events match the build up surrounding them. However, yesterday's Imhotep Charter-Beaver Falls state championship did in great fashion. It wasn't necessarily the prettiest affair (both teams shot less than 50% from the foul line), but it had all the drama of any major championship. Imhotep Charter, led by PSU commit Brandon Austin, pulled out a 56-54 OT win to get their second straight PIAA championship (and 3rd in 4 years).
Austin was the star of the game as he stuffed the statsheet on both ends of the floor (13 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks). Despite being in foul trouble for most of the game, Austin rose to the challenge of guarding PSU target Sheldon Jeter while also controlling the Imhotep offense alongside unsigned senior Khyree Wooten (15 points). His biggest play of the game came in the extra session when he picked Jeter's dribble for a runout dunk that put Imhotep up for good.
Sheldon Jeter unfortunately did not have his best day on the floor, but he still showed why many major D-1 schools are after his talents. The senior led his team with 22 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks but only shot 10-32 from the floor, including an 0-fer performance from three (0-10). Jeter compounded his outside troubles by forcing the issue as the game wore on. He has a good release, but he quickly disregarded his balance and footwork and tossed up brick after brick. It also didn't help that he played all 36 minutes as fatigue surely was a factor. Whenever he took the ball at the rim or got it on the low block, however, he was nearly unstoppable.Regardless of the outcome, the game symbolized much more for Penn State basketball. For the first time in forever, the exposure on the program at the PIAA finals was at the forefront. This is a direct credit to the great work Chambers and his staff have done on the PA recruiting trail. The possibility of Jeter and Austin playing together on the same floor in the future was an overwhelming subplot all afternoon. In attendance was the entire PSU team, including Coach Chambers, who just had the birth of his 3rd child late the night before, DJ Newbill, who practically knew the entire Imhotep contingent thanks to his Philly ties, and fellow 2013 commit Geno Thorpe, who rode the Megabus to State College to support Austin and Jeter.
After the game, both blue-chippers conducted their post-game interviews with class and maturity, especially Jeter. Sheldon was obviously devastated after the close loss, but he still met with the press and reportedly answered all questions thoughtfully. He took accountability for the loss and his poor shot selection.
You can watch Austin's post-game interview thanks to Mark Brennan at FightOnState.com.
Now the attention turns to Jeter and his college decision. There were rumors hinting that a PSU committal was going to go down this weekend, but those turned out to be untrue. Jeter is still considering PSU, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Florida State, and Seton Hall. He still has two official visits remaining that he plans on taking (likely to Seton Hall and FSU).
If you watched Austin's interview, you know what Jeter told him. But here are more positive quotes from Jeter about playing for Penn State in the future:
"I could see myself playing here," Jeter admitted. "I could see myself playing with Brandon Austin and Geno. I could see that. I’m probably gonna take my last two visits before I decide, but first I’m gonna take a couple days off. "I’m probably going to take a long week before signing day [to mull over my possibilities] and probably commit the day before signing day."
Sheldon Jeter Decision Day tentatively set for April 10th, 2012.