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Penn State Basketball Postseason Grades: Shep Garner

After a promising first two seasons, Shep experienced a bit of a ‘junior slump.’ But, there is hope for a strong senior season.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Minnesota Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Shep Garner came into the 2016-17 season carrying some rather high expectations after coming off a sophomore campaign that saw him average nearly 15 points per game, and averaging over two 3-pointers per game, earning him the immortal SH3P nickname. With Tony Carr and Terrence Samuel available to run the point, the belief amongst the fan base was that Shep could finally move over to his more natural position of shooting guard and build upon his 36% perimeter shooting from the 2015-16 season (or so the Germans would have us believe).

Instead, Shep experienced a bit of a decline, seeing his scoring average drop to 12 ppg, and despite nailing more treys (82) than the previous season (75), his perimeter shooting percentage dropped to 35%. Furthermore, Shep failed to hit double digits scoring in 12 of Penn State’s 20 overall Big Ten conference games (including the two games PSU played in the conference tournament). What was supposed to be another step forward for him, ended up being about a half-step backwards.

Offense: B

O-Rating: 99.1%

eFG%: 49.6%

The O-rating is several percentage points down from 105.3% in the 2015-16 season, but his eFG% actually went up from 47.8% last season to 49.6% this season. It seemed at times that he was struggling to get comfortable in his new role as a shooting guard and was unable to step up and be that upperclassman leader on offense who could keep the offense rolling when the freshmen trio of Carr, Lamar Stevens, and Mike Watkins were struggling to put the ball in the hoop. While he had his share of games where SH3P was in full force, he also had his share of games where he almost completely disappeared and was ineffective.

Defense: B

Def Reb %: 8.4

Block %: 0.3

Steal %: 2.2

After Josh Reaves’ spectacular 4.4% steal rate (good enough to rank 11th nationally in KenPom), Shep was the best ball thief on the team. As a 6’2” guard, it’s unfair to expect him to grabbing rebounds and especially to block shots, but his ability to get steals at times was certainly a boon to the team defensively.

Overall: B

Despite his struggles at times, Shep was still a key contributor on the floor when his shots were falling. He was also able to contribute on the defensive end with his ability to steal the ball. Failing to live up to great expectations however, have bumped his rating down to a B-grade.

Offseason To-Do List:

  1. Be the senior leader - Sure Carr/Stevens/Watkins are the nucleus of this team now, but Shep will be entering his fourth season as a starter and can be the vocal senior leader on the team who is also capable of stepping up and making plays when his younger teammates are unable to do so.
  2. Smarter shot selection - Yes, I know, shooters just have to keep shooting. However, I can recall a few instances off the top of the my head where Shep launched an ill-advised quick three or where he launched treys when he could have drove to the hoop and drawn a foul. Which brings me to my next point...
  3. Get back to the free throw line - After making 129 trips to the charity stripe during the 2015-16 season (and nailing 101 of his free throws, good for 78.3%), Shep made a paltry 63 total trips this season. Perhaps you can chalk that up to the freshman trio picking up the slack in that department, but reading that stat still makes me think he can get to the hoop a little more frequently in order to draw the foul and get to the line.