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Penn State Basketball: AAU Season Gets Underway

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It's the offseason. Recruiting's about to ramp up. What's up, #DoWorkPat?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It's been over a month since the overachieving Lions ended their season at the Big Ten tournament. The 2015-2016 team won't be remembered among the program's best, but their 16 wins should be celebrated given preseason expectations. Not many thought this team would earn a bye in the Big Ten Tournament, let alone win seven conference games. The metrics were ugly after nearly finishing with the worst KenPom profile in Chambers' five years, but ultimately it's not the stats that matter. It's all about the dubs in this game, and nobody should have been disappointed with this past season's final tally.

The Lions have now won at least 16 or more games in three consecutive years for the first time in over 20 years. That's a very tame achievement for any high major program, but Penn State's lack of tradition makes it a selling point. Along with Tim Frazier's NBA success and Penn State's ballyhooed 2016 recruiting class (fresh off another state championship), this offseason has far more excitement surrounding it than any since PSU won the NIT hardware at Madison Square Garden in 2009. Obviously that didn't turn out to be a turning point for DeChellis' program after the disastrous 2010 season, but Chambers' recruiting efforts have secured a stronger foundation that has a better chance of sustained success.

This was evident after a remarkably quiet first month of the offseason. While there's already been over 400 transfers and nearly 50 head coaching changes, Penn State hasn't suffered one setback. No assistants have left for greener opportunities and more importantly, no scholarship players have expressed a desire to renege. While anything can still happen in the coming months, this would mark the first summer under Chambers where nobody has transferred out of the program.

Without unexpected holes to fill, Penn State's set up for their least stressful offseason of recruiting since Chambers arrived. Looking at the scholarship matrix, there's not a lot of openings that need filled. The 2017 class could possibly consist of just one player, assuming Payton Banks, Julian Moore, and Terrence Samuel plan to stay in the program for their 5th years. However, that's a bigger assumption to make these days with the prominence of graduate transfers.

Matrix 04.14.16

There's still concern that next year's roster lacks size and depth in the frontcourt. Many hoped they could address this with a grad transfer, but the market has not been kind to PSU thus far (who isn't looking for an experienced center with immediate eligibility?). The Lions could use their last opening to address another prevalent need by adding a knockdown perimeter shooter, but so far the grad transfer market has been ice cold for both options.

The Lions could still theoretically take a normal transfer that would sit out next season, but that would further crowd the program's core of juniors and sophomores in 2018, and does nothing to help next year's team. Unless there's a transfer they truly think would make a game-changing impact in 2017-18, it doesn't make sense to pursue these transfers in this cycle.

While it may be grad transfer or bust for next year, the focus now shifts to the new AAU season that tips off this weekend. Penn State will need to take a big man in the 2017 cycle, and it was rumored that they were focusing on Philly native and Neumann-Goretti star Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. However, they'll have to look elsewhere after DCR eliminated PSU when he trimmed his list to eight on Tuesday.

Since DCR's announcement, Penn State has responded with two more offers to 2017 big men, one of which is a familiar target. Ejike Obinna finally received an offer from Chambers after he was one of their headliners at last year's Elite Camp. He has since garnered over 15 high major offers, but at least the Lions forged a relationship early with the Virginia prospect.

Sean Mobley is a new name to monitor. The 6'9" Mobley will play for Chandler Parsons' Southeast Elite on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit, and he also played high school this past year for Kevin Boyle's powerhouse at Montverde Academy. The Florida native has been rated a 4-star prospect on ESPN and the 247 Composite, and he's on the verge of blowing up this spring. It's worth noting that PSU and NC State were his first high majors offers.

You can add Obinna and Mobley to the big man board that also includes Josh Carlton out of DeMatha (MD) and Deng Gak from Blair Academy (NJ). Of course, the Lions will continue to partake in the Mohamed Bamba sweepstakes until the future NBA draft pick cuts down his list, but for as much progress as Chambers has made in recruiting, landing top-5 prospects is still all but out of the question.

With the flurry of offers that have gone out this week, I can't help but wonder when Zach Kent will get his. Penn State has offered his AAU program's best big man the last four years (We-R1 - Julian Moore, Ben Bentil, Tim Delaney, and Sedee Keita), and Kent is the next man up in 2017. The Delaware native already has an impressive list of offers, but he remains open in his recruitment. Doesn't seem to be too late for PSU to jump in here, if they choose to do so.

As for other 2017 prospects, the Lions have continued their pursuit of wing targets they started recruiting last summer. Kodye Pugh decided to reclassify to the 2016 class and signed his LOI to Stanford this week, but Penn State's still showing serious interest in Aamir Simms from Virginia and Myles Douglas from Maryland. As for Pennsylvania's prized 2017 guards, Lonnie Walker and Quade Green, neither have shown an inkling of interest in Penn State, so it's best to just hope they don't land in the Big Ten.

With less pressure on the staff to deliver in the 2017 cycle, Penn State has plenty of time to continue their early assault on the 2018 class. We'll have an in-depth update on that class later, but we wanted to note a few new offers that went out this past week, all of whom play AAU on the Nike EYBL circuit:

The offers to Myles Dread and Marcus Littles were inevitable, as they hail from programs Penn State has heavily targeted in the past. The Lions are Dread's second offer after George Mason, although the 6'4" wing will earn more in the coming months after a breakout sophomore year for Gonzaga High in DC. He'll run with Team Takeover's 16U team. Littles is the next man up among Philadelphia's best big men, and he will feature with Team Final this summer. He is far from small at 6'9" and 250 pounds, and he spent the last two seasons at Academy of the New Church, although there's been rumors of a transfer for his final two years of high school basketball. Emmitt Williams is a big-time, 5-star prospect at IMG Academy in Florida who plays with Each 1 Teach 1. He'll have plenty of suitors but Penn State has made an attempt to get in early with the South Florida native.