Here we are at the end of May 2008. Coach Ed DeChellis is at a very crucial point in his Penn State career. We have a very young team with about as much potential as any other Penn State team I’ve ever witnessed. That might not sound impressive because I have only witnessed some god awful teams (2001 not withstanding), but with a budding star in Battle and hopefully Brooks and the development of Jones and Jackson as reliable role players, this team can easily make some NCAA noise. But they need more help, especially in the post. We have 4 new incoming players in the 2008 class. Only one of them has gotten any national publicity as far as recruiting buzz. Chris Babb was ranked, but didn’t make the final cut of Scout’s 2008 rankings. He’s listed as an unranked 3-star. Billy Oliver wasn’t even rated one of the top 25 best players in Jersey according to this site. Everyone from Villanova claims Andrew Ott, who was a 3-star coming out of Germantown Academy and was highly recruited, is a bust. He couldn’t get any minutes on a Villanova team that was desperate for post help. At least I found some pretty good news as far Woodyard, who was getting blasted the most by gurus. According to that same site mentioned earlier, Woodyard is the 5th best MD prospect in 2008, right below Maurice Sutton, who just committed to Villanova. Not bad, but experts have still claimed this kid is Fordham material. You can understand the skepticism I have for this recruiting class. I’m not one to judge kids before they step on a college campus (except for Ott). But Penn State’s recruiting class is the worst in the conference, hands down. However, this is not crippling to the future of Penn State’s success if this recruiting class is as bad as it looks. As it looks now, Babb could be the only potential starter down the road, and the other guys look like role players. That’s fine since we got guys like Battle, Brooks, and Cornley this year to carry the load. As long as these guys can contribute something off the bench, it will not be a disaster of a class.
However after this season, Cornley, Danny Morrissey, and Stanley Pringle are all graduating. They will account for roughly 75 minutes per game, 25-30 points a game, 5 assists a game, and 10 rebounds a game this year. Cornley will definitely be starting along with either Morrissey or Pringle at the 2-guard. So we will have to replace some serious production and 2 starters in 2009. We have 5 scholarships to do it. As of now we supposedly have one commitment, 6-5 SG Jermaine Marshall out of Red Land (there was a report that he was going to sign, but no follow-up that he actually did. Regardless, it would a complete shock if Marshall doesn’t end up at Penn State, because as far as I know, he has no other high major offers). I like Marshall, he’s from my area, and I think he can be a good contributor to the team. However, he appears to be another ‘role player’ who’s a long ways away from being ready to be a Big Ten starter. Hopefully Babb and Woodyard are ready to hold down the 2 spot in 2009 so Marshall can develop his game behind them. He’s not an immediate impact recruit.
So we got 4 scholarships left, let’s take a look at the remaining holes we have for 2009. Our most pressing need is we absolutely need to sign a point guard. Personally, I want two. Battle is the only PG as of now who will be here in 2009. If he gets hurt that year, we’re pretty much screwed. I would rather there be two options to minimalize the damage that scenario would inflict. I’m tired of injury excuses being reasons for disastrous seasons. Our main prospect that I would assume at PG is Ohio’s Carl Jones. Surprisingly, he sounds a lot like Battle. He’s only 5’11”, but he’s a great scorer and he would be a huge get for us. However, he’s got offers from Purdue, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Xavier, Cincinnati, St. Joseph’s, and Texas Tech. Ohio State’s been sniffing around too, but their whole scholarship instability has kept them from offering him. He’s not going to be an easy get, but he’s already visited us so his interest in us is genuine. Unfortunately for Ed though, one of our big pitches for kids is are ability to offer immediate playing time. That’s basically why Claxton, Cornley, and Battle came here. However, Jones is guaranteed to sit two years behind Battle. Jones has said he would like to decide by early July. He would be a huge get, but you can’t really expect him to come here. Sounds like he’s a Michigan lean. Also, we are listed on both scout and rivals for Florida combo guard, 6-2 Ramon Galloway. But there has not been anything on his recruitment thus far, so who knows where we stand with him. I don’t know what’s going on with James Kinney’s recruitment, but Indiana (under Sampson) and Illinois were very interested in him, but they’re now out of ‘ships. Iowa was interested too, but they have also added many guards. Maybe we can get him??
Our second glaring need for this class is frontcourt help. Cornley and Suotamo are gone, so that leaves us with Jones and Ott as our only remaining ‘true’ post players. I’ve already stated what my expectations of Ott are, but in reality, only DeChellis knows how good he’ll be and whether he can contribute. DeChellis likes to play versatile wing guys at the 4-spot. So currently, we have Brooks, Jackson, and Oliver to hold down the 3/4 spots. We could use at least one more for depth. We’ve been recruiting 6-7 Oak Hill Academy forward, Brian Oliver hard. He would also be a fantastic get. He’s visited us more than once, and supposedly he was in attendance for the Michigan State upset. However, this appears to be a losing battle. Bobby Huggins, Jamie Dixon, Gary Williams, and Frank Haith are just some of the many coaches who are looking for his services. Apparently he has been a MD fan growing up and really loves Pitt and WV. I’d say we have like a 5% chance at him. But what I really want is a true post presence to help Jones and Ott. Someone who is 6’9″+, 230 lbs that can rebound, defend, and run the floor would be ideal. We could have used one of those guys for years and we still haven’t gotten one. Jones has been the closest thing, but he was so raw when he got here that he’s still trying to develop into that defensive role. I love his energy and work ethic, but his agressiveness gets him into foul trouble too much. He’s got potential though. The only prospect I can say I know we are after is Jake Cohen, 6′-10″ 200 lbs out of Conestoga High School in the Philadelphia area. If the Philadelphia Inquirer’s ‘skinny’ about him is 100% accurate, I’d be thrilled if he signed with us. His shooting range is something Beilein drools about though, and they are in desperate need of frontcourt help as well. So if this kid is a legit D-1 prospect, I can see it becoming a PSU-UM battle.
These next 4 scholarships are crucial to DeChellis’ and Penn State’s future. They will make the difference between the NCAAs and the NIT/CBI/Postseasonless seasons. I hope he doesn’t strikeout.