Here's what we learned about Penn State basketball in the last two weeks.
1 - Despite two consecutive last place finishes and a rocky start to this offseason, Pat Chambers' program has not lost its momentum on the recruiting trail.
2 - Despite decades of irrelevance, Penn State basketball can indeed recruit the fertile courts of the Delaware Valley region.
Not much was going right following this past season. They weren't able to land a good big man that could play next season. Their only serious spring target, Jaylen Bond, opted for Temple over PSU. Associate head coach Eugene Burroughs then departed for an assistant position at Marist, while Adam Fisher left for a better position with Jim Larranaga's staff at Miami. To top it off, the team's 2nd leading scorer passed on his 5th season of eligibility and will
go pro transfer to another college following his August graduation.
It quickly became apparent that none of these setbacks were going to slow Pat Chambers' rebuilding project,.
He promoted his other assistants - Brian Daly and Keith Urgo - to share Burroughs' duties as associate head coaches. They quickly justified the move, at least in regards to their recruiting abilities, as the program reeled in four new players in the span of 12 days. This was an unexpected turn of events considering the circumstances. After more than 6 months dry on the recruiting trail, this much success in such a short span was unforeseen, especially with the staff down one assistant coach.
It surely couldn't have come at a better time.
They have again put themselves in an advantageous position heading into the crucial July evaluation periods. Not only will they have an opportunity to stay ahead of the game and continue to plant seeds in the 2015 and 2016 classes, but they can be selective with their presumptive last scholarship in the 2014 class, one that will be awarded to a 3/4 wing prospect.
The momentum continues to roll as the staff will have two of the hottest prospects on campus for visits this week. Both Terry Larrier of New York (via Phelps School in Malvern) and Mikal Bridges of Philly have flown up the rankings this spring and have racked in numerous high major offers. Both lenky wing prospects possess high-major athleticism along with adept shooting touch from the perimeter. Either player would be another significant recruiting win that would continue to raise eyebrows throughout the college basketball recruiting landscape.
Lost with the recruiting success is the fact that Pat Chambers has brought nearly all of the current players to campus. While he had been handcuffed from the start by a young Ed DeChellis roster, only 3 holdovers remain from the original team he inherited - Tim Frazier, Jon Graham, and Ross Travis - and obviously Tim should have moved on already if not for the injury. It only took a little over two years for the transformation to be completed. It might not have went down as amicably as some would have hoped, but roster stability has finally been restored within the program going forward.
More to come on the Delaware Valley invasion and what it could mean for Penn State hoops down the line.
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