Weight: 225 pounds
Lamar Stevens did just about everything for the Nittany Lions last season, and the senior forward returns to take care of in his own words, “unfinished business.” Stevens was a First Team All-Big Ten selection last season, as well a preseason First Team All-Big Ten selection. He is unquestionably the best player on the team, and one of the best players in the conference. There isn’t much that can be said about Lamar that hasn’t already been said, especially the fact that returning to Penn State for his senior season made a NCAA Tournament dream a possibility this coming season. Not only that, but he gets to work on what NBA Scouts told him he needed to be better at before he put his name in the hat for the draft.
What he did last year
I think it would be easier to answer what he didn’t do last year. Stevens led the team in points per game by a mile, at 19.9. This happened to be second only to Carsen Edwards in the Big Ten. His versatility allowed him to see time at the 5 last season, this being an instrumental part of beating top 10 Michigan later in the season. His speed and athleticism were too much to handle for some of the Big Ten’s bigs, and Lamar made great use of his opportunity. Being such an integral part of the team meant spending a ton of time on the floor. His 91.1% of minutes played (36.6 minutes per game) attest to this, which combined with opponents mobbing led to some frustration down the stretch.
What we need this year.
Stretch the floor - If Lamar can shoot the three at a consistent rate, not only will he put himself in position to get drafted, he will put his team in position to win games by being less defendable than he was last season. Not only that, consistent outside shooting will open lanes for other teammates to work inside.
Share the ball more often - This seems to be a theme for Penn State’s best player every year. Lamar, like Tony Carr before him, Shep Garner before that, and DJ Newbill before, all suffered from the same issue: teams collapsed on them at the end of games, knowing that when push came to shove, the best player would have the ball in their hands. A great way to avoid opponents collapsing on one guy is to have other teammates take the risky last minute shot from time to time. If Lamar can trust his teammates in such situations, it will make this team much harder to defend at the end of games.