Today marks the first day of the one week period where college basketball players are able to sign their Letter of Intents to their desired institution. For Penn State, this means the signings of two talented 2014 guards, Isaiah Washington and Shep Garner. For Pat Chambers, this means establishing the coach's future backcourt in his reclamation project in State College.
Along with current freshmen Geno Thorpe and Graham Woodward, Washington and Garner will fit nicely into Chambers' guard-friendly system. With the graduation of Tim Frazier and Allen Roberts after the season as well, the opportunity for early minutes as freshmen will be there for the earning.
Isaiah Washington was the first guard to commit in this class and did so 592 days ago. He committed after just finishing his sophomore season back on April Fools' Day in 2012 and has been steadfast in his commitment to Chambers and Penn State. The Williamsport native did not indulge in the recruiting scene after making his final decision so early in the process.
The wiry 6'4" guard will bring a well-rounded game to the BJC, highlighted by his lengthy frame and high major athleticism. He was a key member of the Millionaires' 23-3 team last season that won their district title. The combo guard has started the past three years and averaged 16 PPG a year ago. From the little I saw, Washington is a very competitive kid that seems to rise to the occasion in big moments. Unfortunately, Williamsport lost a ton from their successful team last season, so expect Washington's squad to struggle through his senior year, although his numbers should increase dramatically.
Shep Garner followed the more traditional recruitment of most high major prospects, but he also announced his decision earlier than most. He verbally committed this past June, right before his last July period on the AAU scene. Garner is another Philadelphia native from the staff's ever-growing pipeline in the City of Brotherly Love. The point guard has received plenty of exposure playing for one of the city's best catholic programs (Roman Catholic HS) and one of the area's top AAU program's (Team Final) that is a member of Nike's EYBL. Landing Garner over the likes of Rutgers, St. Joe's, Miami FL, Arizona, and Florida was a great recruiting win for this staff.
The 6'2" guard projects as a point guard at the next level, but the versatile player can either distribute or score. He undoubtedly comes with the Philly Swagger coach likes so much. Expect to see another tough guard that is relentless attacking the rim, but can also shoot a bit from range.
There is still one scholarship available to offer in this class, but it remains to be seen what will come of it. PSU had been looking at a long list of wing forwards like Mikal Bridges (Villanova), Kyle Kuzma (Utah), Terry Larrier (VCU), Dominique Uhl (Iowa), Reid Travis (Stanford) and more. They were unsuccessful in their pursuits, and there doesn't seem to be any other serious targets at the moment. The Melvin Swift experience has all but fizzled out, so don't expect to see Swift sign to PSU.
This class isn't set to enroll until June, however, so stay tuned if any JuCo options emerge now that Ryan Devlin is on staff, or if the Lions look to secure another transfer that unexpectedly becomes available. If not, the staff is now at a place where they can be a bit more picky in their offers, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the scholarship carry over to the 2015 class.
As with all recruiting articles, here's your scholarship matrix for reference.
|1||G - Tim Frazier^||G - DJ Newbill^||F - Brandon Taylor||C - Jordan Dickerson^|
|2||G - Allen Roberts^||G - John Johnson||F - Donovon Jack||G - Geno Thorpe|
|3||F - Alan Wisniewski||F - Ross Travis||C - Jordan Dickerson^||C - Julian Moore|
|4||G - DJ Newbill^||F - Brandon Taylor||G - Geno Thorpe||F - Payton Banks|
|5||G - John Johnson||F - Donovon Jack||C - Julian Moore||G - Graham Woodward|
|6||F - Ross Travis||C - Jordan Dickerson^||F - Payton Banks||G - Isaiah Washington|
|7||F - Brandon Taylor||G - Geno Thorpe||G - Graham Woodward||G - Shep Garner|
|8||F - Donovon Jack||C -Julian Moore||G - Isaiah Washington||F - Michael Watkins|
|9||F - Payton Banks||G - Shep Garner|
|10||G - Geno Thorpe||G - Graham Woodward||F - Michael Watkins|
|11||C - Julian Moore||G - Isaiah Washington|
|12||F - Payton Banks||G - Shep Garner|
|13||G - Graham Woodward|
^Used a redshirt year