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Penn State Basketball Recruiting Big Board 6.23.15 - July Live Period Preview and Replacing Geno Thorpe

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The timing of Thorpe's exit wasn't ideal, but it does give Pat Chambers some added flexibility in the recruiting game.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State's offseason was going unusually smoothly up until Geno Thorpe's departure. In the current college basketball landscape, where transfers are the norm (which is fine), teams that dovetail in the second half of the season don't usually retain all of their non-seniors. So the calm surrounding the Nittany Lions for the first two months and change of the offseason was pretty surprising. But of course, this is Penn State basketball we're talking about here, and bad news is almost always accompanied by bad timing. Thorpe's release from the program became official on June 11, when most high-profile transfers and incoming freshmen had already found schools.

We're almost two weeks removed from June 11. Johncarlos Reyes, Penn State's last known target in the class of 2015, committed to Boston College a week later, and unless there's some unexpected activity in the coming months the Nittany Lions will be leaving two scholarships on the table during the 2015-16 season.

On the surface, that situation is less than ideal. Depth is valuable in the Big Ten - especially in this version of the conference, which could very well see eight teams in the NCAA Tournament come March. Pat Chambers would never and should never admit it, but this is shaping up to be a punt of a season, at least results wise. All due respect to Brandon Taylor, Donovon Jack, Jordan Dickerson and Devin Foster - but the core of this team is a young one which should heavily feature seven underclassmen. This team is destined to scrap it out with Minnesota, Rutgers and Nebraska for the right to finish 10th in the Big Ten. If you're an optimist, this means valuable experience for that core leading into 2016-17. If you're a pessimist (which you have every right to be with this program), this looks like another year of saying "wait 'til next year."

Back to the roster situation. If nothing else, these open scholarships give Chambers some flexibility. Even if he finds one 2015 recruit (preferably a large one) to fill a spot, Penn State will go into the season with ability to sign a mid-season transfer, a la John Johnson back in Dec 2012. Thorpe's vacant scholarship also gives the Lions an extra spot in the 2016 class, and most of the recruits Chambers has targeted so far are still undecided. So it's not all doom and gloom yet, but the next few months remain incredibly important to this staff's long-term success, even if immediate off-court wins won't bear any fruit for another 17 months.

Class of 2015 - 2 Scholarships Available

Targets

No known targets

Gone: Tyler Lydon (Syracuse), Donte Divincenzo (Villanova), Jamil Hood (Long Island), Jackie Davis (Washington St), Justin Jenifer (Cincinnati), Kevin Dorsey (Minnesota), Sam Miller (Dayton), Levan Alston (Temple), Bryant Crawford (Wake Forest), Samir Sehic (Vanderbilt), Matt Holba (Lehigh), Derrick Jones (UNLV), Justin Robinson (Va Tech), Aaron Falzon (Northwestern), Levan Alston (Temple), Kerry Blackshear (Va Tech), Evan Bordreaux (Dartmouth), Samir Doughty (St. John's), Khalil Iverson (Wisconsin), Traci Carter (Marquette), Brandon Childress (Central Michigan - Football), Kipper Nichols (Tulane), Shawntrez Davis (Texas Tech), Malik Ellison (St. John's), Milik Gantz (Harcum College), Tyler Kohl (Hutchinson CC), Johncarlos Reyes (Boston College)

Class of 2016 - 6 Scholarships Available

Commits

PLAYER HOMETOWN POSITION STARS NOTES
Nazeer Bostick
Philadelphia, PA
HS: Roman Catholic HS (PA)
AAU: Team Final
Guard/Forward
6'4"
175
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Joe Hampton
Hyattsville, MD
HS: Oak Hill Academy (VA)
AAU: D.C. Premier
Power Forward
6'7"
265
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium

Not much news on the current commits, which isn't such a bad thing. I don't have any inside knowledge or anything but it's probably reasonable to speculate that Joe Hampton will be in attendance for this coming weekend's Elite Camp after attending last year. Bostick, on the other hand, looks set to join Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and DeAndre Hunter at Temple's camp, which is being held at the exact same time (commence freakout!):

Elite Camp has proven to be a great tool for Chambers. Last year's camp was pivotal in securing the commitment of Josh Reaves. Hampton committed (for the first time) soon after. Samir Doughty, who recently committed to VCU after parting ways with St. John's, earned an offer at the camp, and it's fair to expect more offers will go out at this year's event. Lions247 did a great job covering last year's camp, and hopefully they'll be able to provide a similar insight again.

Targets

PLAYER HOMETOWN POSITION STARS NOTES
Tony Carr
Philadelphia, PA
HS: Roman Catholic HS
AAU: Team Final
Point Guard
6'3"
170
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Visited 2/28/15
Lamar Stevens
Jenkintown, PA
HS: The Haverford School
AAU: Team Final
Small Forward
6'6"
215
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Dylan Painter
Hershey, PA
HS: Hershey HS
AAU: Team Final
Power Forward
6'10"
230
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Sedee Keita
Philadelphia, PA
HS: 22 Feet Academy (SC)
AAU: We-R-1
Power Forward
6'9"
225
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Visited 6/12/15
DeAndre Hunter
Philadelphia, PA
HS: Friends' Central School
AAU: Philly Pride
Small Forward
6'7"
180
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Visited 10/23/14
Markelle Fultz
Hyattsville, MD
HS: DeMatha Catholic HS
AAU: D.C. Blue Devils
Shooting Guard
6'4"
170
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Visited 4/18/15
Alani Moore
Hyattsville, MD
HS: Montrose Christian HS
AAU: D.C. Premier
Point Guard
5'10"
160
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Offered
Visited 11/3/13
Willie Jackson
Cleveland, OH
HS: Garfield Heights HS
AAU: King James Shooting Stars
Forward
6'6"
210
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
A.J. Wilson
Lanham, MD
HS: Montrose Christian HS
AAU: D.C. Premier
Small Forward
6'6"
180
NR
Offered
Visited
11/9/13
Jair Bolden
Norristown, PA
HS: Westtown School
AAU: New York Jayhawks
Point Guard
6'3"
190
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Visited 2/14/15
Ar'Mond Davis
Tacoma, WA
JuCo: College of Southern Idaho
AAU: n/a
Small Forward
6'6"
190
NR

Names to watch: C Abdul Ado, C Barrett Benson, G A.J. Brodeur, G Amir Coffey, F Darius Hicks, G Kevin Huerter, G Frankie Hughes, F Mario Kegler, F Paul Newman, G Quinton Rose, F K.J. Santos, G Josh Sharkey, G Ian Sistare, F Arnaldo Toro, G Breein Tyree

Gone: G Randall Broddie (Memphis; Reclassified to 2015), Anthony Cowan (Maryland), Amarveer Singh (Seton Hall), C Derek Funderburk (Ohio State)

After camp, the July live period takes center stage. The first three Wednesday-to-Sunday stretches of the month are considered "evaluation periods" by the NCAA, which gives coaches and assistants the opportunity to watch their prospective recruits in-person. These events are generally run by the major shoe companies as well as grassroots organizers like the Hoop Group. The Nike Peach Jam is generally regarded as July's premier event and with Team Final in attendance you can be sure to find Twitter reports of Penn State coaches in the ATL from July 8th to July 12th.

Speaking of Team Final, Carr, Stevens and Dylan Painter remain the top priorities for Penn State. Quite a few schools have jumped into the Carr and Stevens sweepstakes this summer, but PSU should be right in the thick of things for both top-100 prospects come the fall. From this Scout.com video interview, Carr plans to take his official visits in September and October before deciding, and if the package deal is still on then Stevens will likely adhere to a similar timeline.

I use the 247 composite rankings for the star designations above, but Painter recently received four-star designation from ESPN which reflects the staggering number of offers he's gotten this summer while playing with Team Final. Penn State desperately needs bodies for the frontcourt in 2016 and Painter has said that he'd like to play right away as a freshman, so the Nittany Lions appear to be in good standing right now. 247's Crystal Ball is even more optimistic:

Painter took an unofficial visit at Villanova on June 11 and recently went on an official visit at Xavier. Iowa will get another official, and according to this Facebook post he'll take another visit to State College by the end of the summer.

I had all but discounted Penn State as a major player in Sedee Keita's recruitment after Brian Daly's departure from the coaching staff, but then Alex Kline tweeted on June 11 that Keita was visiting State College. Shows what I know. Anyway, Keita and DeAndre Hunter were standouts at the recent NBPA Top 100 camp, and their stocks will surely be on the rise.

Markelle Fultz is destined for a blue blood program, with Arizona and Louisville the two most connected to the DMV's top player. He wouldn't be on this board had Chambers not convinced him to visit for the Blue and White game, but it's hard to imagine Penn State being major player in his recruitment at this point.

Ar'Mond Davis is an intriguing addition to the board. He's currently a rising sophomore at College of Southern Idaho, a junior college where Penn State has connections, believe it or not - current director of player development Ryan Devlin's last job was as an assistant at CSI. Davis averaged 10.4 points over 16.4 minutes per game as a freshman, and despite him shooting just 28% from deep it looks like he has a sweet stroke:

Originally committed to Seattle U out of high school in Tacoma, WA, Davis has accumulated offers from the likes of Alabama and Iowa St along with PSU. With another year of JuCo ball to go, he'll likely get a few more coming his way.

Class of 2017 - 6 Scholarships Available

Targets

PLAYER HOMETOWN POSITION STARS NOTES
Mohamed Bamba
Harlem, NY
HS: Westtown HS (PA)
AAU: PSA Cardinals
Center
6'11"
190
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Lonnie Walker
Reading, PA
HS: Reading HS
AAU: Team Final
Shooting Guard
6'5"
180
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Quade Green
Philadelphia, PA
HS: Neumann Goretti (PA)
AAU: We-R-1
Point Guard
5'11"
155
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
Aaron Thompson
Fairfax, VA
HS: Paul VI (VA)
AAU: Team Takeover
Point Guard
6'1"
165
12998_medium12998_medium12998_medium
David Beatty
Philadelphia, PA
HS: Archbishop Carroll (PA)
AAU: We-R-1
Guard
6'3"
195
NR
Visited 11/8/14
Najja Hunter
Montclair, NJ
HS: Westtown HS (PA)
AAU: PSA Cardinals
Shooting Guard
6'5"
178
NR
Visited 2/14/15

Names to watch: F Nick Alikakos, C Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, G Renell Cummings, G Trevon Duval, F A.J. Gareri, G Nate Pierre-Louis, G Daron Russell, G Terryonte Thomas, G Matt Turner

Penn State has gotten an early commit (i.e., a player who cannot sign for another year) each summer since Chambers took over in 2011. The lack of potentially available scholarships in the 2017 class, however, could affect that streak. If the Nittany Lions fill all six currently open spots with players who will be on campus by November 2016, there won't be any spots for a 2017 kid. Conversely and optimistically, the scarcity of scholarships might help persuade one or more to secure their spot early.

Mohamed Bamba, Lonnie Walker and Quade Green aren't the type of recruits (read: really good recruits) that typically rush to commit. More importantly, they aren't the type of recruits who usually come to Penn State. Chambers offered Bamba quite early in his recruitment and they'll be sure to keep recruiting him, but blue-blood programs are already hot on the trail of the 6'11" future pro. Neumann Goretti's Green dominated the Philadelphia Catholic League as a junior, and coaches took notice - most notably Mark Turgeon and Tom Izzo, who joined Chambers in offering Green this summer.

It's important to remember that we can't know everything that happens in recruiting, but the fact that Lonnie Walker has reportedly yet to receive an offer from PSU is out of step with Chambers' recruiting strategy. Walker is a top prospect from central PA that plays on Team Final. Given that he's picking up offers from the likes of UCLA, Stanford and Ohio State, Penn State already has their work cut out for them in Walker's recruitment. But again, signing day for this class is about a year and a half away. Things can and will change. Update (5:55 p.m.): Things have changed, according to the Reading Eagle. They report that Walker does indeed have a Penn State offer. Hat tip to PennStateHoops.com user CAPPY.

Scholarship Matrix

2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
1 F - Brandon Taylor C - Julian Moore^ C - Julian Moore^ G - Isaiah Washington^
2 F - Donovon Jack F - Payton Banks^ F - Payton Banks^ F - Michael Watkins
3 C - Jordan Dickerson G - Shep Garner G - Shep Garner G - Deividas Zemgulis
4 G - Devin Foster G - Isaiah Washington^ G - Isaiah Washington^ G - Josh Reaves
5 C - Julian Moore^ F - Michael Watkins F - Michael Watkins G - Nazeer Bostick
6 F - Payton Banks^ F - Deividas Zemgulis F - Deividas Zemgulis F - Joe Hampton
7 G - Shep Garner G - Josh Reaves G - Josh Reaves
8 G - Isaiah Washington^ G - Nazeer Bostick G - Nazeer Bostick
9 F - Michael Watkins F - Joe Hampton F- Joe Hampton
10 F - Deividas Zemgulis
11 G - Josh Reaves
12
13




Left 2 4 4 7
Senior Junior Sophomore Freshman

Redshirting
^Used a redshirt year