With the 2011-2012 basketball season in the books, the focus shifts to the recruiting trail. On Wednesday the spring signing period begins and runs through May 16. This second signing period gets pretty chaotic with all of the coaching changes, transfers, decommitments, and NBA early departures. Many teams are left scrambling to fill scholarships for next season, but with most of the prep talent signed away in the fall, there aren't many options to go around. It can be a dangerous time for coaches if they get desperate and offer a scholarship to a player who isn't the best fit. Luckily Chambers stressed in his season-ending presser that they were going to take their time through the process and not "make a rash decision just to fill a scholarship"
There was a time just a few months ago when PSU was trying to find a scholarship to offer Sheldon Jeter, but now Pat Chambers and his staff have some work to do after three players transferred out. As of now, the roster has just four guards for next season. That doesn't seem like it would cut it for a coach who loves three guard lineups. Chambers now has three open scholarships to distribute over the next two classes. He also has a fourth one that's open for this season only. We will make this more easily accessible at some point, but all scholarship questions are answered by the table.
I expect Nick Colella will receive Billy Oliver's scholarship. The only other option for the one-year grant is a post-graduate transfer. There have been no indications of such a player having mutual interest with PSU. Colella makes too much sense from a depth standpoint. While the former walk-on struggled at the end of the year, he provides insurance for next year before Geno Thorpe and Brandon Austin arrive in 2013.
As far as what happens with the other three ships is anyone's guess. To be honest, I thought more news about potential prospects would have surfaced by now, but there are different routes the staff can go.
-TRANSFERS: Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com is in the process of releasing the list of transfers from this season. He says it's nearly 300 players long. The great thing about transfers is you have a much better idea of the talent you are getting, but they have to sit out a full year. With only 9 scholarship players, Penn State needs immediate help for next season, but that doesn't mean they won't entertain valuable additions who could help down the road.
Some transfers to keep an eye on are sophomore guard Tony Chennault (Wake Forest) and freshman guard Derrick Gordon (Western Kentucky). Chennault's an interesting case because he might be eligible for a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility. The Philadelphia native wants to transfer closer to home to help his ailing mother. The question is would the NCAA think PSU is close enough to home to grant the waiver? This is all just speculation, though, as there hasn't been any evidence either party is interested. Chennault is a Team Philly and Neumann-Goretti alum and a friend of DJ Newbill's.
Derrick Gordon just recently got his release from Western Kentucky, and his high school coach told Adam Zagoria that Penn State, Seton Hall, Va Tech, and Dayton were possible destinations.
-JUCOS: You can find some great talent in the junior college ranks, but most players are there because they've had academic problems coming out of high school. PSU has had issues before with some prospects whose transcripts get denied here but accepted elsewhere at other schools (most recently, Anthony Hubbard). However, if you can find the right fit, they can be worth the effort (Stanley Pringle).
I've only seen PSU's name pop up with two JuCo guards - 6'6" Nick Wiggins from Wabash Valley CC (IL) and 6'3" Brandon Spearman from Indian Hills CC (IA). Wiggins, whose younger brother Andrew is the #1 player in the 2014 class, is one of the top juco prospects remaining. He just visited Wichita State over the weekend and is also considering Oregon State and Baylor among various other high majors. Many think Nick will have an instant impact wherever he goes, but PSU has major ground to make up if they are serious about landing him. Spearman was getting some high major looks toward the end of the season. PSU went to one of his games in early March. However, the Dayton transfer apparently didn't grade favorably after his performance in the NJCAA tourney, and it seems like many high majors have backed off. Instead of a list consisting of Iowa, UNLV, and Texas, he is receiving interest from Detroit, San Francisco, and UW-Milwaukee.
-HIGH SCHOOLERS: There are still a few unsigned seniors out there, but not too many. It's slim pickings this time of year as roughly 90% of the top prospects sign in the fall period.
The biggest target remaining is still Sheldon Jeter. PSU continues to have as good a chance as anyone to land him. Pitt and Seton Hall are out, and he seems to be dragging his feet about this potential visit to Florida State. Frank Martin's move to South Carolina has the Gamecocks still in the hunt but probably eliminates Kansas State. Penn State, South Carolina, and Wisconsin seem to be in the best position. He mentioned a possible April 10th decision back at the PIAA finals, but that doesn't seem reasonable now. He's still got another five weeks to take his last two visits if he wants.
Many have inquired about Constitution High School's dynamic senior duo of Savon Goodman and Daiquan Walker. I have no doubt Chambers would love to land both of these Philly guys, but PSU's lack of interest gives credence to the rumors of their academic troubles. There's a chance both of them go the prep route to get their grades in order. Regardless, neither of them seem to be an option for PSU at this point.
Some former targets have gone back on previous commitments. Josh Gray from Houston recently got his release from Mississippi State, while Darrick Wood from DC went back on his St. John's verbal. However, Penn State hasn't been mentioned with either player since they've been back on the market.
So what's going to happen?
Here's my totally subjective odds for scenarios with the four remaining scholarships. It is not scientific in any way, just pure, fun speculation.
|1 Scholarship Saved for 2013||99%|
|Someone Not In This Post||75%|
|2 Scholarships Saved for 2013||15%|
|Transfer With Immediate Eligibility||10%|
COMMIT NOTES: AAU season kicked off this past weekend. Team Philly featuring Brandon Taylor and Brandon Austin went 2-0 in Nike's IS8 Classic. They play next in the Donofrio Classic quarterfinals in Conshohocken on Wednesday at 8:30 PM. Geno Thorpe's King James Shooting Stars won the Buckeye Prep Invitational in the U17 division. Thorpe didn't play in the championship because his mom wanted him home for Easter dinner..................Be aware of the new recruiting rules this season. The last two weekends in April are now Live Periods for coaches to attend and evaluate at certified AAU events. If you were hoping to see Chambers at Blue-White weekend, sorry to let you down.................If you follow Akosa Maduegbunam on twitter (@maduegbunam_1), you already know he's ready to sign his LOI on Wednesday. If you don't remember, Chambers' first verbal commit wanted to wait until this period to sign, so he could have a proper ceremony with his family present. He was at prep school during the fall signing period.