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Penn State Basketball Preseason Preview: Meet The Newcomers

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The portal taketh away, but it also giveth.

NCAA Basketball: Norfolk State at Siena
Jalen Pickett headlines the portal transfers coming into Penn State’s hoops program
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Penn State Basketball season is right around the corner! As we inch closer and closer, we’ll be taking a look at the 2021-22 Nittany Lions’ season. We continue our season preview series with a look at the newcomers.

As Eli alluded to in his returnees post earlier this week, there have been a whirlwind of changes to the Penn State hoops program. Most notably perhaps, were the five scholarship players that Micah Shrewsberry brought into the program via the transfer portal. Let’s take a closer look at the new faces adorning the roster:

Jalen Pickett (Guard - Siena)

There was no bigger win for Coach Shrews via the portal than this guy. Don’t believe me? ESPN ranked him 22nd amongst their Top 100 transfer portal pickups list. Pickett averaged nearly 13 points and five assists last season at Siena and led the MAAC conference in assists for a third straight year. Consider him a virtual lock to be the starter at the point guard spot with his ability to score and drop dimes.

Jaheam Cornwall (Guard - Gardner-Webb)

The 6-footer brings a lethal three-point shot to Happy Valley, averaging a mesmerizing 42.4 percent from downtown over the course of his four years as a college hoops player. Last season, he averaged 14 points and nearly four assists and eclipsed over 1,000 career points (he currently has 1,213). If he doesn’t start, he will for certain be a quality sixth man who can provide some instant offense off the bench.

Greg Lee (Forward - Western Michigan)

The 6’9” big man averaged 13 points and seven rebounds per game last season at Western Michigan, which made him the team’s leading rebounder. He also notched four double-doubles last season with the Broncos. Prior to Western Michigan, Greg played for a few years at Cal State Bakersfield. While it remains to be seen whether or not he starts, the addition of him alone upgrades the front court depth behind John Harrar, which was a very low bar, but nonetheless a bar that is being cleared.

Don’t take my word for it on Mr. Lee though, as Myles Dread sung his praises during an interview with BTN’s Andy Katz a couple months ago when asked about a teammate to watch this season.

Jevonnie Scott (Forward - South Plains College)

James Franklin isn’t the only Penn State coach who’s reeling in Canadian exports to their respective sports ball team. The Toronto native averaged 11.5 points and about 5.5 rebounds per game last year at South Plains College, helping to lead the school to an NJCAA (JUCO’s version of the March Madness). Although not expected to start, Jevonnie is someone who can provide some depth off the bench at the forward spot and give the team a few quality minutes.

Unfortunately, we learned from Shrews’ media day press conference earlier this week that Jevonnie is out indefinitely and is not practicing with the team while he goes through some NCAA transfer issues. He is however, continuing to take classes at Penn State as the coaching staff hopes to get him back soon enough.

Jalanni White (Forward - Canisius)

His numbers may not be eye-popping, as he only averaged a little under four points and over two rebounds last year in eleven total games at Canisius. He does however, bring a career 64 blocks and 41 steals, two things the Nittany Lions could use on the defensive end. That being said, if he had trouble lighting up the stat sheet at Canisius, it’s hard to see him being anything more than a big body for Shrews to throw out onto the court if any of the other bigs find themselves in serious foul trouble.