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Penn State Basketball Preseason Preview: Supporting Cast

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The starters for the 2020-21 season are actually kind of set already.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

For all the upheaval in Penn State basketball of the the past couple of weeks, the actual roster has remained pretty stable. The Nittany Lions haven’t had any [public] departures yet as part of Pat Chambers’s sudden resignation last month, and given recent developments in the form of the players themselves not knowing why their coach was let go, it’s quite surprising* to see them stick together like this.

On Thursday we previewed the presumed starters. Today, we go over the players who will likely take the bulk of the minutes not occupied by those five.

Izaiah Brockington - Junior Guard

Brockington will likely be the first person off the bench for the Nittany Lions. Brockington showed an abundance of athleticism, and the ability to take over games at key spots. No single statistic will pop at you, but, like his predecessor in Josh Reaves, Brockington tends to stuff the box score with contributions everywhere.

Brockington was one of the better free throw shooters on the team last season, so if he is able to find himself going to the line more often it could be beneficial for a Nittany Lions team that will need all the help it can get this season.

Sam Sessoms - Junior Guard

Sessoms said he wanted to sit out this year and learn, but given the circumstances, it’s likely he plays this season, knowing his eligibility won’t be exhausted. After having a record-setting career at Binghamton, the kind of spark he can provide to the team, trading defensive prowess in Jamari Wheeler with offensive efficiency in Sessoms, could create nightmare scenarios for teams.

If he plays, Sessoms won’t have the usual 11-game warmup to prepare for Big Ten play, but the five that are on the schedule should still provide the kind of challenge to get used to playing basketball at a power conference.

Trent Buttrick - Senior Forward

Buttrick probably haven’t seen the amount of time he may have wanted, but given the big situation coming into the season, expect Buttrick to spend an increased amount of minutes in the post. Can Buttrick make a senior jump, like some of the players that came before him? He needs to look no further than Brandon Taylor, who took a bigger role in the post his senior season, and it paid dividends in his outside game too.

Abdou Tsimbila - Freshman Forward

For the same reason Buttrick will see time, so will Tsimbila. The freshman could probably use some time to get acclimated to the college game, but having one person over 6-foot-8 on the roster means any big body available will see the floor. That said, don’t expect Tsimbila to spend 20 minutes a game right off the bat. He will ease his way into the lineup as he gets more comfortable with his role.

Other likely contributors:

DJ Gordon, Dallion Johnson, Caleb Dorsey, and Patrick Kelly round up the rest of the newcomers, with the latter being not new to the team, but the floor. It’ll be hard to tell which of these guys see the floor the most, but the most likely to do so are Johnson due to his shooting, and Gordon due to him looking like the most physically ready of the incoming freshmen. We know nothing of Kelly yet, but this is a perfect opportunity for him to help replace the giant hole Lamar Stevens left at the position. This also applies to Dorsey.