Continuing our series looking back on 10 Years of Black Shoe Diaries, our staff members considered which former player would make the best addition to the upcoming season’s team. With the current roster loaded with talent (relatively speaking), this was more fun to think about than in years past when it felt like one player wouldn’t have made a difference.
Is Talor Battle the only correct answer? Or, is the need for an experienced Forward too big to use this magic wish to add another guard to the team? Feel free to voice your opinions below, and let us know which former player you think would make the best addition to the team this year.
Garrett: Geary Claxton
I'm going to go with Geary Claxton. Claxton was an elite defender in his time at Penn State, along with being a reliable scorer. The biggest thing he would bring to this young and talented team is veteran leadership. With Claxton, I feel Penn State could reach the NCAA tournament and maybe make some noise that first weekend of madness.
Jared: Talor Battle
Usually when I respond to a question like this, I really think about the weaknesses of a team and then think about which player would help address them. I would even go the analytical approach to see who might provide offensive rebounding, points off the bench, perimeter defense, or any of the oft-overlooked aspects that help a good team become a great one. But with this question, my head and my heart both come to an immediate conclusion- Talor Battle. Sure, it's always great to have a big man, but with Battle it seemed all things were possible. You just never knew when he would explode for 25 in a half, or hit threes on four consecutive trips, or just get that last bucket when all seemed lost. As long as Battle was on the roster, it seemed like Penn State had a chance to topple any opponent on any given day.
Chris T.: Jamelle Cornley
It would be nice to add a low-post defensive stopper to the current team. It makes me wonder if it was better for PSU when Jordan Dickerson was granted eligibility earlier than normally allowed when he transferred from SMU. If we had the big guy this year, one year more mature and trained, it could be just what we need. Since there are no other players that fit that description over the past ten years, I would look for low-post stability and points. Jamelle Cornley would get my pick. Cornley was an under-sized forward at 6'6" but he was able to score consistently while at Penn State, finishing with 12.9 points per game through four years. His presence would open things up for Julian Moore and the younger power and small forwards in the paint. Cornley averaged a solid 1.5 assists from the post and contributed over six rebounds per game as well. His ability to grab a steal here or there, nearly one per game in his career, would help counter the fact that he had only ten blocks through 122 games played at Penn State. Cornley would not help this team's low-post defense, but he would give the team a steady scorer from the paint and eat up minutes, allowing the younger players to use fouls and break in more slowly.
Tim: Stanley Pringle
The one thing that's been sorely missing from the program during most of the Pat Chambers era is a reliable go-to three point shooter. Enter Stanley Pringle. Pringle shot over 40% from downtown during his two seasons in Happy Valley, including a staggering 45.3% his senior year, nailing 72 of his 159 attempts from beyond the arc. Not to mention, he's also an uber-quick guard who has the capability to drive and dish it back out to an open teammate or take it to the hoop, himself. Just one more problem for opponents to worry about with Tony Carr/Terence Samuel running the point, Shep Garner in the backcourt, Josh Reaves/Lamar Stevens on the wing, and Mike Watkins down low.
Dena: Talor Battle
Easy answer. Talor Battle: Penn State’s all time leading scorer. He made three pointers look so easy. He made everything on the court look easy. I never got so excited watching PSU basketball (in 25 years of watching) than I did when he was on the team.
Cari: Talor Battle
How can anyone go with any player besides Talor Battle, the breaker of Illini hearts everywhere? Listen, I get that guards are not an area of weakness on this year's team. So-freaking-what. It's Talor Battle. He was the heart and soul of Penn State basketball for years, and willed his otherwise underperforming team to victory time and again--he elevated the play of everyone around him. If Ed DeChellis could do what he did with Battle, imagine what Pat Chambers could have done? I get goosebumps just thinking about the possibilities.
Lando: Mike Walker
We all know that I would not have picked these guys if anyone else on this list was available, but I was always a fan of Mike Walker and Danny Morrissey (as well as pretty much every other player already listed).
Everyone needs a scrappy left point/shooting guard, and/or a guy that will make his face look like Oberon Martell in order to grab a loose ball.
It's tough to decide between the two, but I'll go with Walker as he was a better defender (and was a large part of the road Illinois upset in '08).
Ross: Jeff Brooks
The selections made so far speak to the absence of a dominant, basket-guarding Center in the past decade of PSU hoops to clean things up in the paint and control the boards. Jeff Brooks certainly wasn’t that guy, but he was a big man who could do a little bit of everything, including shooting over 40% from beyond the arc during his senior season.
Brooks was one of the most-improved players on the roster between 2009-10 and 2010-11, and several times watching his senior year I had to wonder if it was the same Jeff Brooks. Able to score inside and out, Brooks creates mismatches all over the floor. After the loss to Temple in the NCAA tournament of 2011, many felt that Brooks’ game-ending dislocated shoulder that saw him miss the 2nd half was the difference between a win and a loss. Could Jeff Brooks be the key to getting the 2015-16 team past the round of 64? We’ll never know.
Eli: Brandon Taylor
In looking at which past players could help this current team, one does not need to go any further than last season. Taylor may not be the most talented player on the list (in fact, he may be the least talented of all the players mentioned to this point). He may not have accomplished as much as some of the others (only one to not participate in the NIT or NCAA in his career). But what he does have is familiarity with the current team, natural leadership abilities, and and a verifiable trajectory that took him from complete unknown his freshman season to third team All Big Ten his senior year.
Having Taylor around would help ease the transition for our first-year players at the 3 and 4 spots, given his flexibility to play inside out, as well as his improving 3-point percentage over the last year. His .359 3-point rate last season is not great, but it’s almost 10 percentage points higher than his freshman season. It would have been great to see what kind of season Taylor would have had this season with a much more talented supporting cast.
Out of all the people who could possibly help this team, the one who embodies Pat Chambers’ personality and trajectory at Penn State would be my choice.