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Penn State Enters the Basketball Recruiting World

With Brandon Austin's commitment last night, Chambers has forced my hand at some recruiting coverage I was hoping to push out immediately after this season. Although most of us have already seen the waves Chambers has made in the recruiting realm, there was still skepticism until that first big time recruit actually made the call. Geno Thorpe had impressive offers but was still rated a fringe Top 100 player at best like Taran Buie. To be fair to Buie, he was ranked similarly to where Austin is now when he committed, but then he fell down the rankings. Judging by his offers, Brandon Austin appears to be that first true 4-star prospect who spurned the big boys of the Big East to come to PSU.

Chambers has landed 5 players since he was hired in June, and it seems each new one is bigger than the last. Momentum is so big on the recruiting trail, and there's no question PSU is gaining steam in PA right now, Philadelphia in particular. However, PSU can't hand out many more scholarship offers unless others open up. All of that will play out over the next year, but if I had to guess, I'd say PSU ends up with a four-man class in 2013.

If that indeed becomes the case, I'd expect those four guys to form PSU's first ever nationally ranked recruiting class. Why? As the Recruit Scoop hinted, there are more big names on the way, likely AAU teammates or friends of the current commitments from the Philly/NJ area. Austin said it himself to David Jones that DJ Newbill, Brandon Taylor, and Geno Thorpe all helped lure him to State College. All these players know who's who in Philly basketball (and nearby NJ). It also helps even more when some of them play for the same AAU program (Team Philly). All of these guys will have a great family vibe going before they even step on campus and will likely continue to spread the word about Penn State basketball all through the area.

Penn State is now a viable basketball option for any Philadelphia basketball player.

The buzz around this program right now grabs the attention of other big time recruits looking at Penn State. It also gives PSU great momentum to get started on the 2014 class this offseason. The big news has already left a favorable impression on 2014 SF Jahyde Gardiner, another Team Philly disciple.

There's no doubt the excitement around this program is reaching unchartered grounds, but it's important to put this in perspective. While these are new heights for Penn State in recruiting, this doesn't make much of a ripple in the Big Ten. For instance, this conference already has 5 of the current top 10 2013 recruiting classes, as ranked by Scout. Not all of those classes will stay there at the end of the day, but there are a lot of great recruiters in this conference. Five Top 25 2012 classes are coming in next year too (UM, MSU, Iowa, PU, and IU), while Illinois, OSU, and Wisconsin will never be short on talent. There's still plenty of work that needs to be done to reach comparable levels to their Big Ten brethren.

The good news is Chambers has us in a position to reach those levels. Next up for PSU in the immediate future is 2012 6'7" wing Sheldon Jeter from Pittsburgh. Jeter is a late-bloomer who was under-the-radar on the AAU circuit this past year but has really grown into a high-D1 prospect. Many have cited his improved defense to compliment his explosive offensive game as the reason he's receiving bigger interest. Wisconsin and South Carolina have offered him scholarships, while Pittsburgh has been on the verge of offering the last few weeks. Penn State sits in a great position for Jeter (Thorpe has been recruiting him, too), but the Pittsburgh offer could be the x-factor.

As far as 2013 prospects, PSU is still in the running for many of the top ones. Here's a list of former campus visitors from the past summer / fall.

Name Position Stars
Kris Jenkins WF 4*
Davon Reed SG 4*
Jaren Sina PG 4*
Kyle Washington PF 4*
Jordan Washington PF 4*
Schuyler Rimmer PF 3*
Jaron Hopkins CG 3*
Josh Hart SG 3*
Terrence Samuel CG 4*
Devin Williams PF 4*
Tony Farmer WF 4*

PSU is in better position for some of these guys than others. My personal favorite is Kris Jenkins, who seems to be a slightly taller (though still short) Jamelle Cornley with a lethal jump shot. He has been killing it for Gonzaga HS in DC (Keith Urgo's old school) and is quickly rising up the rankings. I haven't heard too much recently from the big men listed (other than Rimmer), but I know Williams is a long shot. Farmer has most of the Big Ten on him, but he is the HS teammate of Trey Lewis.

It all comes back to the Recruit Scoop's tease at the end of his article about Brandon Austin. Arguably the most connected recruitnik on the East Coast had this to say:

As the new Nittany Lions staff continues to restore the roar at Penn State, look for another big name to commit to the program in the coming months.

Kline, who lives in New Jersey, is well connected to Davon Reed and Jaren Sina. They both are playing in Kline's annual classic (that honors his mom who died of cancer, great story by the way).

While the season is in a bit of lull right now, the possibilities on the recruiting trail are very exciting. It's going to be a fun offseason. #doworkPat

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