End of an Era

First off, I want to thank Charles Little. If it wasn’t for your commitment to play basketball at Dayton University, Jamelle Cornley would never have arrived here in State College. For that, I’m forever grateful to Charles Little.

When Jamelle Cornley committed to PSU, I was just 15 years old. Here’s what Ed DeChellis had to say about Jamelle on signing day:

“We’re very excited to have a player of Jamelle’s quality join the Penn State basketball family,” Nittany Lion head coach Ed DeChellis said. “He is a warrior on the basketball floor, strong and energetic. Two of the aspects of Jamelle’s game that are so intriguing are his power and enthusiasm. He comes from an outstanding high school program and I believe he is a perfect fit for our system. We’re elated he will be a Nittany Lion next season.”

That’s exactly what Jamelle was here at PSU – warrior, enthusiastic, energetic, strong.  How everyone got caught up on this guy’s height is beyond me, especially after watching some of his high school highlights. I’d take Jamelle Cornley any day of the week. He’s simply a beast and probably one of the toughest, most intense competitors I have ever seen in any sport, let alone PSU basketball. If you haven’t seen the videos below, watch them and get to know Jamelle’s story. I personally love the story his mom tells about when Jamelle was 6 and playing his first year of organized basketball.

I could go on and on about Jamelle and what he’s meant to this program, but it’s pretty much all been said before. Instead, I’ll just highlight his top 5 most memorable plays to me.

Number 5 – vs. Iowa – February 28th, 2007

Yes, I know I said I was counting down ‘plays’, but #5 is a tribute to Jamelle’s game performance against Iowa. Jamelle’s sophomore year was a big disappointment for the program. After winning 6 Big Ten games the year before and all but one contributor returning, PSU had expectations going into the season. But they couldn’t put it together and lost 13 straight Big Ten games. They would’ve lost 16 in a row to end the year if it wasn’t for Jamelle.

Iowa came into the game a longshot for the NCAA tournament, but they were still being mentioned as a bubble team. Jamelle put an end to their bubble talk. Despite suffering a painful hip pointer just 4 days earlier in the previous game, it was admirable just for him to play (we had lost 13 games in a row).  But he not only played, he dominated and willed PSU to a victory. He finished with 20 points and 13 boards. You can read Mark Brennan’s recap of the game, here.

Number 4 – @ Illinois – February 4th, 2006

Jamelle didn’t have a huge impact in this monumental upset. He finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds. However, Jamelle did something that I never thought I’d see a true freshman in a Penn St uniform do. Illinois had won 33 home games in a row. They had dominated the game at this point ever since the ball was tipped (they jumped out 13-0). But when James Augustine didn’t like a foul call, Jamelle got right in his face. Only the guys on the court at that time know what that conversation was about, but watching Jamelle get right in the grill of an experienced all Big-Ten player was stunning and memorable. A double-technical was assessed and PSU went on to comeback and win the first big win in the Ed DeChellis era.

Number 3 – vs Ohio State – February 14th, 2007

The Greg Oden staredown. During PSU’s monster comeback against the eventual national runner-up Buckeyes, Jamelle got the ball on a fast break. He took one dribble into the man-child that was Greg Oden, double-clutched, and knocked in a big bucket that kept PSU’s momentum going. After the bucket, Jamelle gave Oden this badass look that is unforgettable. It was only for a second or maybe two, but it gave me chills. You can see the play in the first youtube video in this post at 3:20.

Number 2 – vs Iowa – January 24th, 2009

Jamelle’s whole game was memorable in the comeback. But his performance was capped off with one of the most ridiculous offensive rebounds I have ever seen. After a missed three at the shot clock buzzer, Jamelle, who began his pursuit of the rebound at the foul line, chased down the rebound that was going out of bounds. He jumped in between two Iowa players, corralled the ball, and then turned around in mid-air and threw it back to Battle 30 feet away at the top of the key. A pivotal rebound that forced Iowa in a situation where they had to foul down 3 with under 30 seconds to go. The play can be found towards the end of this video.

Number 1 – NIT MVP  – April 2nd, 2009

The picture says it all. He finally got his chance to shine.

Honorable Mentions:

The one-armed rebound.

I will never forget his gestures showing his thanks to the fans before every tip-off of every home game. I’m so happy for him that we raised the black curtains this season.

Thanks, Jamelle. You did indeed leave a legacy. Your toughness, emotion, and leadership will never be forgotten. Now, go graduate.

*Be sure to read Hoopraker’s tribute to Jamelle.


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