When the 2016 recruiting class featuring the “Roman Catholic Trio” of Lamar Stevens, Tony Carr, and Nazeer Bostick was officially signed, sealed, and delivered, I (and probably a good number of fellow Penn State hoops devotees) had visions of this trio, along with Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins forming the nucleus of a program that would not only get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, but perhaps do so more than once during their careers.
We all know how things have turned out since, with Carr unwisely declaring for the NBA Draft after his sophomore year, Bostick transferring, and Reaves graduating, all without ever experiencing the Big Dance.
My opinion on Pat Chambers hasn’t changed from back in March. I think he’s very fortunate to have an AD who has been willing to give him an additional shot at getting Penn State basketball to the promised land.
There is something to be said however, about the fact that both Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins returned for their final season of eligibility, instead of pursuing pro opportunities either in the NBA or overseas. There is also something to be said about the fact that outside of Rasir Bolton, there haven’t been any key players transferring out of the program. It appears that the players are still buying in to whatever Pat and the rest of the coaching staff is selling them on.
This brings me to my main point: If Penn State is ever going to get over the hump and make the NCAA Tournament under Chambers, this is the year that it will happen. The pieces are in place with Lamar, a pair of reliable big men in Watkins and John Harrar, a steady hand at point guard in Jamari Wheeler, Myles Dread and Myreon Jones’ 3-point shooting abilities, a newly eligibile Izaiah Brockington who from what early returns so far show, may be ready to step into Reaves’ old role as an athletic defensive force to be reckoned with on the wing, and highly-touted newcomers such as Seth Lundy, who can provide critical minutes to give Lamar and other key starters a breather.
The Nittany Lions have also drawn an overall favorable Big Ten schedule, in addition to having some golden opportunities for non-conference scalps in Georgetown, Ole Miss, Syracuse/Oklahoma State, and Alabama. If this team and coaching staff are truly capable of getting to the Big Dance, their time is now.
For everyone’s sake, let’s hope their time is indeed, now.