Penn State Basketball Recruiting Big Board - 6.10.2014

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

With the the July evaluation period coming up, Pat Chambers and Penn State are in the running for some serious talent. Can they close the deal and compile what would be one of the best recruiting classes in recent school history?

Most teams coming off of a 16-18 season don't see much success in the recruiting game. This is especially true when 16-18 is considered a "decent season" with regards to the program's recent history. And yet, here Penn State is, on the verge of compiling its best recruiting class since the dawn of recruiting websites. The 2015 class already sports top-100 big man Mike Watkins, and with the recent addition of deadeye shooter Deividas Zemgulis, Penn State can lay claim to the 12th-ranked recruiting class in the nation according to 247 Sports' composite rankings. And with two scholarships currently unoccupied for 2015, there's a very real possibility that the Nittany Lions could improve that ranking. [DISCLAIMER: This is just as likely to happen]

But before we get into 2015 and beyond, let's take a quick look at the immediate future. Also, if you haven't bookmarked it already, here is our scholarship matrix page for reference. And another disclaimer: there's no inside information here. This is simply an accumulation of the information that's out there, supplemented by my hot takes. Off we go:

2014 - 1 scholarship available

Commits
PLAYER HOMETOWN POSITION STARS NOTES
Isaiah Washington
Williamsport, PA
HS: Williamsport Area HS
AAU: We-R-1
Guard
6'4"
180
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Shep Garner
Philadelphia, PA
HS: Roman Catholic HS
AAU: Team Final
Guard
6'2"
180
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Devin Foster
Jefferson, OH
JuCo: Vincennes University
AAU: Dayton Nets
Guard
6'1"
205
NR

With international man of mystery Vangelis Bebis choosing Iona last week, Penn State appears to be standing pat (pardon the pun) with its 2014 recruiting class. There's always the possibility of late action in the transfer market, but as of now the roster for next season is all but finished. Washington and Foster are already on campus and working out (along with redshirt freshmen Julian Moore and Payton Banks), and Garner will presumably join them for the second summer session.

2015 - 2 scholarships available

Commits
PLAYER HOMETOWN POSITION STARS NOTES
Michael Watkins
Philadelphia, PA
HS: Math, Civics & Sciences HS
AAU: Team Philly
Forward/Center
6'8"
225
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Committed
Deividas Zemgulis
Leonardtown, MD (via Lithuania)
HS: St. Mary's Ryken HS
AAU: n/a
Small Forward
6'6"
220
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium

We're approaching the one-year anniversary of Mike Watkins' commitment, and despite the paranoia of Penn State hoops fans, there's been no indication that the centerpiece of the 2015 recruiting class has wavered in his pledge. At least not publicly, anyway. Watkins earned a fourth star from ESPN after a strong showing at the Pitt Jam Fest in April, so there's reason to think that he'll be drawing interest from some of the big boys of college hoops. Only six months until signing day.

Targets
PLAYER HOMETOWN POSITION STARS NOTES
Josh Reaves
Fairfax, VA
HS: Oak Hill Academy
AAU: Team Takeover
Shooting Guard
6'4"
185
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Georgios Papagiannis
Norristown, PA (via Greece)
HS: Westtown School
AAU: Team Takeover
Center
7'1"
235
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Offered
Visited 6/5/14
Traci Carter
Burlington, NJ
HS: Life Center Academy (NJ)
AAU: We-R-1
Point Guard
6'2"
170
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Levan Alston
Haverford, PA
HS: The Haverford School
AAU: Team Final
Point Guard
6'4"
165

12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Visited 9/28/13
Bryant Crawford
Washington, DC
HS: Gonzaga
AAU: Team Takeover
Point Guard
6'2"
170
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Visited 10/27/12
Khalil Iverson
Delaware, OH
HS: Delaware Hayes HS
AAU: Ohio Varsity
Guard/Forward
6'5"
200
NR
Derrick Jones
Wayne, PA
HS: Archbishop Carroll
AAU: We-R-1
Small Forward
6'6"
180
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Offered
Markis McDuffie
Jersey City, NJ
HS: St. Anthony's (NJ)
AAU: SportsU
Forward
6'7"
185
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Malik Ellison
Voorhees, NJ
HS: Life Center (NJ)
AAU: Albany City Rocks
Guard
6'5"
175
NR
Offered
Visited 8/8/13
Donovan Mitchell
New Milford, CT
HS: Brewster Academy
AAU: The City
Guard
6'3"
180
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Brandon Childress
Baldwin, MI
HS: Baldwin Senior HS
AAU: P45
Guard
6'3"
185
NR
Justin Robinson
Manassas, VA
HS: St. James School
AAU: Boo Williams
Guard
6'1"
170
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Matt Holba
Chesterton, IN
HS: Guerin Catholic
AAU: Speice Indy Heat
Guard/Forward
6'6"
185
NR

Gone: Tyler Lydon (Syracuse), Donte Divincenzo (Villanova), Jamil Hood (Long Island), Jackie Davis (Washington St), Justin Jenifer (Cincinnati)

Names to watch: G Milik Gantz, F Aaron Falzon, G R.J. Jones, F Tyler Kohl, G Glynn Watson, G Jarvis Johnson, C Jimbo Lull, F Tony Anderson, G Dupree McBrayer, F Evan Boudreaux, F Kipper Nichols, G Edward Polite, F Esa Ahmad, G Samir Doughty

You'd have to think it would ease Watkins' mind if Chambers could grab one of the players near the top of the board. All indications are that Josh Reaves is the staff's top priority, and for good reason - the 6'4" guard is climbing the rankings even faster than Watkins after a superb outing at April's Nike EYBL event in Sacramento, and he's got the attention of some of the mid-Atlantic's top programs. Fortunately for Penn State, Dwayne Anderson has been giving Reaves his full attention for the better part of a year, and the Nittany Lions could pip schools like Villanova, Maryland, and Georgetown for his commitment because of it. Reaves is reportedly set to make a decision at the end of July.

Point guards Traci Carter, Levan Alston, and Bryant Crawford have been some of PSU's top targets for a long time, but an intriguing new name on the block is Ohio wing Khalil Iverson, a relative unknown on the recruiting scene. Iverson was on campus this past weekend and received an offer, his first from a high-major program. There isn't a ton out there on him, aside from some impressive YouTube highlights:

He certainly has the athleticism to play in the Big Ten (LGHL's Zach Fleer has more on his game here). Perhaps Chambers and co. have found a diamond in the rough, but with just two scholarships left (one of which would ideally go to Reaves), it would be a little uncharacteristic of this coaching staff to not seek out a point guard with so many talents out there in that position.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's the 7'1" Philadelphi-Adonis, Georgios Papagiannis (nickname copyright Chad Markulics 2014 all rights reserved). As you may know, Papagiannis took in the scenes of State College last week on an unofficial visit. Just getting him on campus was a win for the Nittany Lions, but if they can somehow land his services it would be a program-changing commitment. But, yanno, don't get your hopes up.

2016 - 6 scholarships available

Targets
PLAYER HOMETOWN POSITION STARS NOTES
Alani Moore
Hyattsville, MD
HS: DeMatha Catholic
AAU: DC Premier
Point Guard
5'9"
160
NR
Offered
Visited 11/3/13
Joe Hampton
Hyattsville, MD
HS: DeMatha Catholic
AAU: DC Premier
Forward
6'7"
235
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Nazeer Bostick
Philadelphia, PA
HS: Roman Catholic HS
AAU: Team Final
Guard/Forward
6'4"
175
NR
Lamar Stevens
Jenkintown, PA
HS: The Haverford School
AAU: Team Final
Small Forward
6'6"
190
NR 2013 Skills Camp Attendee
A.J. Wilson
Lanham, MD
HS: Duvall HS
AAU: DC Premier
Small Forward
6'6"
180
NR
Offered
Visited
11/9/13
Amarveer Singh
New Orleans, LA
HS: St. Peter's Prep (NJ)
AAU: New York Lightning
Small Forward
6'7"
180
NR Offered

Names to watch: C Barrett Benson, C Derek Funderburk, G Amir Coffey, F K.J. Santos, F Paul Newman, F Willie Jackson

It's still early on in the process for the current high school juniors, but that's been Penn State's strategy of late - getting in early before the competition heats up. The early approach has worked for Geno Thorpe and Watkins (knock on wood), and just as with Reaves, Anderson is spearheading the efforts on DeMatha (MD) duo Alani Moore and Joe Hampton. Moore is drawing rave reviews as a true point guard despite his small frame and Joe Hampton is almost a second shot at landing Kris Jenkins for PSU, both of whom are skilled, big bodied forwards (the latter signed with Villanova in 2013). The Nittany Lions were among the first high-majors to offer both prospects, so Anderson is hoping to make a favorable early impression once again. The series with George Washington that was announced yesterday will see PSU travel to D.C. in 2015, and you can bet Anderson has already been pitching that game to a few of these 2016 recruits.

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