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?"
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.
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.
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.
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.