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2016-17 Penn State Basketball Player Preview: Deividas Zemgulis

Can the Lithuanian shooter find a role in a suddenly crowded offense?

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a long time since Penn State was good at shooting the basketball. In three of Pat Chambers’s five years with the program, the Lions have ranked outside the top 300 nationally in effective field goal percentage, as measured by KenPom. Even in the other two years, Penn State was still outside the top 200. That’s pretty bad for a major-conference program that is looking to make a name for itself.

Looking to change the trend, Chambers recruited Deividas “Davis” Zemgulis out of Maryland for the 2015-16 season. The Lithuanian small forward was considered an excellent shooter in high school, and he’s someone who will be depended on to stretch the floor for the Lions in this season and the future.

Last year

As a true freshman, Zemgulis was not quite ready for primetime, as he clocked in 12.2 minutes per game and averaged just under three points per game. Despite battling a knee injury during the non-conference slate, Zemgulis earned his first career start at Purdue on January 13, but he only came away with two points in 27 minutes. When the freshman did shoot the ball, it was mostly from three-point range, as 40 of his 68 field goal attempts came from beyond the arc.

Role for 2016-17

Zemgulis only connected on 10 of those 40 three-point shots, and that rate is not going to be acceptable if it continues in the future. He doesn’t profile as a star player, but we’re expecting the lanky shooter to become much more accurate his year. If his teammates can find him some open looks, he might even have more performances like the one he had against Kent State last year. In that game, Zemgulis shot 4-for-5 from three-point range for a career-high 11 points.

Although he’s listed as a forward, Zemgulis will compete with the guards for playing time in Chambers’s fast-paced offense. He’ll be working almost exclusively from the perimeter to space the floor and knock down open shots. Until he proves himself as a reliable weapon, Zemgulis should come off the bench and try to find a steady role on the team. He’s someone to watch for during the early stages to see if he has improved his game after a mostly forgettable freshman campaign.