I haven’t been able to stay on top of the season recently because of how busy I’ve been, let alone recruiting. However, I’ve got some time now, and PSU has finished their 2009 recruiting with a commitment from Sasa Borovnjak last week. PSU had 5 open scholarships for the 2009-2010 season coming into this year. However, there are no juniors on the roster this season, so those 5 ‘ships have to last for the next 2 recruiting seasons. PSU signed 6’5″ G/F Jermaine Marshall and 6’1″ G Tim Frazier in the fall signing period. DeChellis said during the season that they were looking to sign one more guy for the spring period. Well, that guy’s now Borovnjak, so PSU is done with their 2009 recruiting and set up with 2 scholarships for 2010. Here’s a run down of PSU’s three commitments for 2009.
Jermaine Marshall – 6’5″ 185 lb SG – Marshall is sitting his senior season because of a knee injury. He got microfracture surgery in the fall (it was performed by PSU team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli). He was debating whether to try to give it a go in the postseason this year, but it’s been decided he’ll sit out all year. He’ll be healthy though when he arrives on campus in the summer. He has carried Red Land HS, which plays AAAA ball in the Harrisburg Area, the last three seasons (in fact, he’s their all-time leading scorer). I actually got to catch Marshall and Red Land’s playoff game against Quincy Roberts (now at St. John’s) and Harrisburg last season. Harrisburg won, and I have to admit I was more impressed with Roberts at the time than Marshall. I was hoping to catch more of Marshall’s games this season since I’m from the Harrisburg area, but his injury has prevented him from playing. While I didn’t see it in the Harrisburg game, Marshall has been said to have the ability to finish tough baskets in the lane, but he also has a legit J from outside. Marshall’s athleticism isn’t going to wow anyone, but he has put up some great stats. Looking at statlines from his junior year, he has done it all for Red Land in his career – score, defend, rebound, etc. I know DeChellis and Kanaskie have been all over Marshall since the beginning of his recruitment. If I remember correctly, he’s been visiting campus since he was a sophomore in HS. He was the first commit of this class, when he pledged in April 2008. It really was never a question of where he was going to school. However, Marshall’s coming in with a lot of doubters. I know many people who have seen or played against Marshall and have not been impressed, or at least, don’t believe he’s high D-1 material. His recruitment certainly could be described as under-the-radar, so I don’t know what kind of interest he generated from other schools. I know Temple and St. Joe’s were mentioned as recruiting him but I don’t know if either of those schools offered. When he committed, it was said he chose PSU over Temple, St. Joe’s, Marist and Rider. That’s obviously not that impressive a list. But then again, Cam Woodyard was called a Fordham recruit, and he’s shown he can certainly play at this level. That 90 rating ESPN gives Marshall is a complete mystery to me. He hadn’t been ‘evaluated’ forever until they updated his profile sometime in the last month. But with his injury, he hasn’t been playing since the summer so I don’t know where ESPN got their information to update his rating and give him a 90, which is the highest of our three recruits.
2009 IMPACT – It’s too tough to tell. He’s got to recover from his knee injury, and he’s got David Jackson, Jeff Brooks, Chris Babb, and Cammeron Woodyard in front of him for playing time. But the coaching staff loves this kid and they say he’s going to have a big impact. We’re just going to have to wait and see him next year, instead of passing any sort of judgment. If anyone’s going to redshirt from this class, it’s going to be Jermaine, but I highly doubt he’ll redshirt. I hope Jermaine has a successful career here since he’s from my area, but there’s not a lot of information out there to get excited about him compared to our other two recruits.
Tim Frazier – 6’2″ 160 lb PG – Tim’s enjoying a successful senior season so far, as he’s apart of the #7 high school team in the nation, Strake Jesuit in Houston, TX. Frazier, along with ND commit Joey Brooks, have led Jesuit to a 31-0 record. He scored the winning basket against Alief Taylor back in January, capping a thrilling comeback victory and preserving Jesuit’s perfect season. Frazier is clearly the heir apparent to Talor Battle. Scouts and coaches have raved about his speed and quickness that go along with his great ballhandling skills. He’s also been pegged as a solid on-ball defender. Unfortunately, I’ve found more video of Frazier’s Dougie dance than his actual skills (he’s #23 in both those videos). A local news station in Houston put up this video a few weeks ago that has a Frazier interview/highlights. You can check his senior stats here. I’m sure more footage will pop up when his senior year’s done. Hopefully this play will…from Strake Jesuit’s recap of their last game against Spring Woods…
Guard play by Frazier and Rogers got precise with steals, assists and floor leadership while Williams found his shooting eye and torched the Tigers from beyond the arc. As the Tigers tried to match the Crusaders’ intensity it would be Frazier who would help deliver the games biggest momentum swing on a fast break as Rogers flipped a behind the back pass to a trailing Frazier who would then literally leap OVER his defender for a monster jam! The gym went wild and at that point there would be no holding back the Crusaders’ charge as they opened the game and never looked back.
He seems like a loose, joking kid, but he was very adamant about his academics during his recruiting process. He actually visited Harvard and continually stressed how important getting a good education was to him. He picked Penn State over Stanford, Colorado State, Bradley, Harvard, TCU, and San Diego.
2009 IMPACT: He’s going to have probably the biggest impact next year because there’s simply no one else in the backcourt to handle the rock. He’ll be Stanley Pringle’s replacement. PSU’s backcourt next year is going to have some question marks after Battle, with Morrissey and Pringle gone. It’s too early to tell, but Frazier’s got a legitimate shot at starting next year alongside TB. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Battle play the 2 guard with Frazier at the point. Judging by Frazier’s stats, he certainly isn’t a shooter. He’s a penetrator who can finish in the lane or dish the rock. It sounds like he has Pringle’s speed and quickness, but Pringle has always had a scorer’s mentality along with Battle. I’ve always felt like Pringle hasn’t penetrated nearly enough, and when he does, he’s either out of control or he shoots the rock himself. I’m hoping Frazier comes in with a point guard mentality of consistently getting others involved when he penetrates. He can take a lot of pressure off of Battle next year by handling the rock more and setting up Battle. I expect Frazier to log a minimum of 20 minutes a game next year.
Sasa Borovnjak (my guess is bow-rahv-nee-yak, first name’s pronounced Sasha) – 6’9″ 230 lb PF- Now Sasa is probably the most intriguing recruit in the DeChellis era. The native of Belgrade, Serbia came to America in October 2007 and enrolled at Veritas Christian Academy, a private school in Fletcher, NC. When he arrived in America, he was a measley 205 pounds. Apparently they called him Sushi for how soft/skinny he was. However, in a year and a half, he’s put on about 25 pounds of muscle. That’s pretty impressive for anyone at the high school level, due to the lack of knowledgable trainers and the eating discipline required to putting on weight. But enough about his body (no homo), the dude apparently has serious game. It’s always tough to get the real scoop on what’s going on with some prospects’ recruiting processes these days. Coaches do what they’re suppose to do and hype up their own players as much as they can. As in, if they get so much as a letter from a school, that school is immediately listed as interested. Borovnjak has been said at some point, somewhere to be recruited by Wake Forest, Xavier, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Marquette, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Clemson, Washington State, N.C. State, Cincinnati, South Florida, Fresno State, among many more mid-majors. Those are obviously some big time programs, but who knows to what extent those schools were interested. I’ve heard WSU, Xavier, Wake Forest, and South Florida all offered. NC State must have never offered because it was reported that he would commit there if he was. Same deal with Marquette after he visited their midnight madness back in the fall. But the fall signing period came and went with Sasa not signing anywhere. I had my doubts about our thin frontcourt for next year after we didn’t sign any big man in the fall (who would replace Jamelle’s inside production?). With recruiting these days, fewer and fewer good prospects are around for the Spring signing period. When Sasa announced his commitment last week, it was reported he chose PSU over College of Charleston, but it was also said that he might delay his decision because Georgetown wanted to visit him last week. So he’s certainly had a wide variety of schools that have at least looked into him. It’s not hard to figure out why he has garnered so much attention, though. Anyone who’s 6’9″ that can put up 33 points and 13 rebounds on the prestigious Oak Hill Academy (#2 in the country this year) is going to get looks from big time programs.
2009 IMPACT: He’s going to have to have a big one. With Jamelle gone and the struggles of Brooks and Jackson this season, PSU has a big hole at the 4 spot for next year. Jones/Ott will hold down the 5 spot, so Sasa has a great opportunity to come in and start at the 4. We have yet to see what Billy Oliver has to offer, too, but if Sasa is as good as his numbers say, he’ll be a big time player next year. He’s averaging 25.7 points his senior year on 61% shooting, and he’s certainly not doing it against chumps. Veritas plays Oak Hill 3 times this season. I haven’t found their schedule online, but he’s certainly playing against some of the best HS teams in the country. Last season, he scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds against Al-Farouq Aminu, the stud freshmen for Wake Forest who’s a projected lottery pick. From ESPN’s report, linked above…
His best attribute is his ability to score in the post but he can also step out to 15 feet and consistently knock down jumpers. He also has a nice mid-range game for someone 6’9. Penn State coaches will love his scoring mentality. He’s put up some high scoring game this winter and the Nittany Lions staff has taken notice. Sasa possesses a scorer’s mentality and can really fill it up. He has a tremendous amount of upside because of his terrific size and skill. He’ll be a matchup nightmare for opponents at the next level. Sasa can take bigs out and knock down jumpers or he can take smaller defenders right to the basket. If he gains some strength and works on his rebounding he’ll be a great get for a Penn State team looking to make some noise in the Big Ten.
Color me intrigued. Will PSU really have a reliable, versatile inside scorer next season who’s taller than 6’4″? This might be a first in 6 years of Ed DeChellis’ regime. Past Penn State European players will always leave me skeptical (Jagla, Bogetic, Suotamo, Obradovic), but I’m excited that not only this kid has played a few years of American ball, but he’s played top notch competition and he’s produced in a big way. His coach has tossed around Goran Suton comparisons often.
Class Thoughts – I will admit I didn’t think we’d land somebody of Borovnjak’s caliber in the spring period. I will also admit that I’m still fretting my balls off about how much better this conference is quickly becoming. You cannot question the caliber of coaches in this conference. In fact, you can do a quick team-by-team recap of who’s returning and who’s leaving for next season, and it’s hard to argue that any team will be worse than they are this year. Except for, of course, Penn State who loses about 50% of our scoring. MSU and Wisconsin might not be as good, but I’m sure they won’t be worried about finishing last next season. It’s almost impossible to prove that DeChellis isn’t the worst coach in the league, so we’re facing an uphill battle. With DeChellis’ inevitable extension he’ll receive for the progress made this season, he better be ready to step his coaching game up if he wants to stick around another 6 years. I’ve been worrying about this class for almost a year now, but I have to admit that it has exceeded my expectations. I no longer feel that this program is just going to go back in the tank after our flash-in-the-pan season this year. Frazier and Borovnjak seem like studs, and I’m still curious to see Marshall just because of how much the staff loves him. But at the very least, you have to feel comfortable with the competition these three kids have played in high school. Marshall has probably played the worst, and he’s played AAAA PA ball which is no joke. They’re all battle-tested and have produced against big time competition. That was a big question with Babb coming into this year. He looked like a superstud, but he played against terrible competition in HS, so his learning curve was steep. It was easy to tell that it took him a while to look comfortable on the court this year. But these kids though should be ready Day 1. They’ll have to be for PSU to sustain some momentum as a program…
Looking on to 2010 – Now this is going to be interesting. PSU only has 2 scholarships for this class, and you’d have to think one of them is eternally saved for 4-star, 40th ranked Taran Buie (Battle’s bro) until he decides. Hopefully Buie decides early, so if he doesn’t come here, PSU can move on. His top four schools are Maryland, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and us. But if Buie is indecisive and waits a while, it could spell trouble for PSU. You see, Buie has quality connects on the AAU circuit, like Will Regan (both played on Albany City Rocks last year). Regan was already on campus this year for the Illinois football game. So PSU could be toying with the idea of saving both ‘ships to try and grab a top notch prospect along with Buie. Obviously the coaching staff is already making leads with other recruits, but you have to believe they’re telling them they’re all right behind Buie. Some other names to keep an eye on for now: Tyree Johnson, Terrell Stoglin, Ryan Bass, Allen Payne, Ronald Roberts (also visited during football season), Ty Armstrong, Dwight Powell.
This class is probably going to be judged on whether we land Buie or not. Battle says he’s not pressuring his bro into coming here, but there’s been rumors already that Battle’s mom, Denise Murphy, is contemplating moving the whole family to State College. Jeff Rice wrote an article for Nittany Network about Buie the other day, so that should get you up-to-date. Stay tuned for more on the Buie saga as it unfolds…