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Penn State Basketball 2014 Player Report Cards: Geno Thorpe

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Penn State's season has been over for a few weeks, so now it's time to hand out final grades for the 2013-14 season. Last but not least, the Nittany Lions' top returning freshman, Geno Thorpe.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The most highly-touted signee of Penn State's 2013 recruiting class, Geno Thorpe didn't necessarily have the weight of expectation bogging him down entering this season, despite Jon Rothstein's best efforts. With Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill clearly ahead of everyone else in the pecking order, as well as Allen Roberts and John Johnson filling the sixth-man role by committee, Thorpe and the now departed Graham Woodward weren't forced to contribute more than would normally be asked of freshmen guards.

Thorpe often played well in his limited minutes, to the point where Pat Chambers was forced to give the Shaler graduate a few starts down the stretch run of the B1G campaign. And you'd have to say it payed off - Thorpe established himself as the best perimeter defender on the team as well as proving to be a capable scorer in the lane. It made many fans, myself included, wonder: "why on earth is a player like this not getting more run?"

The Numbers

Season 27.6% 109.2 14.9% 3.2 57.0% 3-10 1.6 8.7 21.4 96.5
Conference-Only 28.2% 107.4 14.8% 3.3 58.6% 2-5 1.7 9.6 25.0 113.7

Most freshmen aren't this shy from the three-point arc. Thorpe took 65 shots on the year, 55 of which were twos. It's not that he was an awful jumpshooter either, judging by his release and form - he just had that discipline and determination to get to the rim that you love to see in any player, much less a newcomer. He got to the line at a pretty incredible rate as well - he shot more free throws than Donovon Jack despite playing nearly half of the minutes of the sophomore center.

The Good

Frazier praised Thorpe's defense late in the season, saying he could be "one of the Big Ten's top defensive players when it's all said and done," and I'm not one to disagree with Timmy. Geno had quite a few important steals - the swipes against Mount St. Mary's and Ohio State immediately spring to mind -and probably made more #ATTITUDE plays per 40 minutes than anyone. There's probably not video of it (bonus points to anyone who can find it), but he contested a Minnesota player's breakaway layup without fouling in the B1G tournament and I recall getting super hyped over it because Penn State hasn't had a player with those defensive instincts since I began following the team.

The Bad

Geno did have his mental lapses, most of which resulted in turnovers. His lazy pass that led to the Gophers' win in the BJC was the first of many signs that he won't be considered an option at the point next season, and for him to get a major minutes boost he'll have to cut back on them quite a bit.

Best Performance

vs. Ohio State - 19 min, 9 pts (3-4 FG), 3 reb, 1 stl

This game epitomized what Thorpe brought to the fold in 2014. His breakaway dunk after pickpocketing Sam Thompson gave the Lions an added boost en route to finishing off their season sweep of the Buckeyes. He then proceeded to play zero minutes in the following game against Wisconsin. Score one for the #FiurChambers crowd, I guess.

Next Season

Depending on whether Chambers prefers to start games with D.J. Newbill at the point or the two, Thorpe should be in line for either a starting or sixth-man role in 2015. His defensive prowess is too valuable in this league to have him sit for 20 minutes a night. If he works on his ballhandling, especially with his weaker left hand, there's no reason Thorpe shouldn't be an integral part of the team.

Final Grade: B+

There were plenty of impressive moments for Thorpe in 2014, which is precisely what you want to see from a freshman tipped to carry on the legacy of outstanding Nittany Lion guards once Newbill's career comes to a close. There's no doubt Chambers got a good one in Geno. Just pray that the Penn State basketball gods don't take him from us.