#68 Penn State Men's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Penn State Nittany Lions
2019-2020 Overall Rank: #68
Conference Rank: #10 Big Ten
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Coming off an NIT Championship in 2018, many thought 2018-2019 could be Penn State’s year to end their NCAA Tournament drought that dates back to 2011. It did not happen. Instead, the Nittany Lions went 14-18 and just 7-13 in Big Ten play. Once again the expectations are rising in University Park. However, the NCAA Tournament may be a bit too far off for this group, but a trip back to the NIT is not a bad season for Penn State.
2018-19 Record: 14-18, 7-13
2018-19 Postseason: None
Coach: Patrick Chambers
Coach Record: 127-140 at Penn State, 169-168 overall
Key Departed Players:
Josh Reaves, Guard, 10.6 ppg
Rasir Bolton, Guard, 11.6 ppg
Deivis Zemgulis, Forward, 1.0 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Lamar Stevens, Senior, Forward, 19.9 ppg
Myles Dread, Sophomore, Guard, 8.3 ppg
Jamari Wheeler, Junior, Guard, 3.6 ppg
John Harrar, Junior, Forward, 3.4 ppg
Mike Watkins, Senior, Forward, 7.8 ppg
Myreon Jones, Sophomore, Guard, 4.0 ppg
Trent Buttrick, Junior, Forward, 1.7 ppg
Kyle McCloskey, Sophomore, Guard, 1.3 ppg
Key New Players:
Seth Lundy, Freshman, Forward
Abdou Tsimbila, Freshman, Center
Patrick Kelly, Freshman, Forward
Curtis Jones, Senior, Guard, Grad Transfer from Oklahoma State
Izaiah Brockington, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from St. Bonaventure
The higher expectations lie largely on the shoulders of senior forward Lamar Stevens. He led the team with 19.9 points and 7.7 rebounds and flirted with the NBA before opting to return to Penn State for one last go. Stevens is not the biggest player in the Big Ten, standing 6-8 and 230 pounds, but he is certainly tough in the paint. Stevens will take some three-pointers too, but only connected on 22.0 percent of his 91 attempts from beyond the arc. Mike Watkins had a drop in production during his junior year in large part due to some off-court issues. But the 6-9 forward still managed to average 7.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Two years ago Watkins tallied 12.1 points and 8.9 rebounds. If he can get back to that form and with depth provided by John Harrar, Penn State will have a superb frontcourt. The backcourt lost their best two scorers in Rasir Bolton and Josh Reaves, but there is some talent there too. Myles Dread knocked down a team high 67 three-pointers as a freshman and will be asked to be a more all-around scorer as a sophomore. Jamari Wheeler will run the point after averaging 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals last season. He is not much of a scorer, but Wheeler leads this team on both ends of the floor. Myreon Jones showed promise in limited minutes as a freshman and will compete for a starting job. The addition of St. Bonaventure transfer Izaiah Brockington and Oklahoma State graduate transfer Curtis Jones will provide more scoring prowess on the perimeter. Jones, who also spent some time at Indiana, averaged 8.1 points with the Cowboys last season. If those pieces on the perimeter can step up, this will be a pretty solid team. However, that may not be enough to navigate the tough Big Ten and reach the upper half of the conference standings.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.7 (257th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.6 (94, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.7 (305, 13)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.1 (196, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.9 (253, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.0 (294, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.3 (217, 10)
Rebound Margin: 2.3 (106, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.2 (265, 14)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (127, 9)
Madness 2020 NBA Draft Rankings:
#50 Lamar Stevens