Men’s Basketball Season Preview
The Penn State men’s basketball team takes to the court for its first official regular season games this weekend. This season offers so much promise to the Nittany Lions but most of it will ride on the growth and development of last year’s underclassmen. Mike Watkins highlights a core of sophomore standouts that are ready to have a breakout year. Along with the red-shirt sophomore Watkins, Penn State’s two ESPN Top-100 players from a season ago, Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens, both have a year of experience under their belt and hope to lead the Lions to some success in the 2017-2018 season. However, this might be Coach Pat Chambers’ make-or-break season to make some kind of roar in the upcoming campaign.
Don’t be shocked if the starting five for the upcoming games against Campbell and Farleigh Dickinson is completely different then what will be seen at the end of the season. Mike Watkins should be a standout starter for the Nittany Lions throughout the year, as he was arguably the best player on the team just a season ago. Although, questions are being raised whether his eligibility will come into play. Coach Chambers excluded Watkins from the team trip down to the Bahamas back in August and also did not play in either exhibition game against Lafayette and Bloomsburg. So, if Watkins is out indefinitely, expect to see graduate student Julian Moore in his place. Therefore, a predicted lineup of Shep Garner, Tony Carr, Josh Reaves, Lamar Stevens, and Julian Moore (similar to that of the exhibition games) would be safe to assume. Garner will be looked upon to lead a youthful team, and with this being his last season he has the opportunity to write his own script. Watkins remains the best player on paper but Garner is and should be the center piece of what could be a successful year for the men in blue and white.
This year the backup unit is led by Nazeer Bostick and look for him to have a breakout year and possibly finding his way into the starting rotation. Behind Bostick is a core of players that will be making their first appearances for Penn State in this campaign. One of those guys happens to be transfer student Satchel Pierce, who if Watkins is in fact sidelined for some time, has the opportunity to receive a plentiful amount of game time. Pierce has the talent to enter the starting rotation if the battle is between him and Moore but that should create for a healthy and exciting competition. Apart from Deivis Zemgulis and second year walk-on Grant Hazle, the rest of the bench is comprised of freshmen. Bostick and freshman guard Jamari Wheeler may be the two biggest impacts off the bench. Chambers will have to rely on these two guys to push the second unit and if they do not, it could be another down year for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions only got better since the ending of last year and the experience that Carr and Stevens were able to gain will help mightily when BIG Ten play begins. However, I still think that this team is one year away from making the tournament. It is still a young group that will have to play a gauntlet of games in a tough conference. So, my season projection for the Lions is a 9th place finish and a .500 record of 9-9 in conference play. I believe the youth of this side will show and it will affect them in the games that go down to the wire but there is potential for a different outcome if senior guard Shep Garner can keep his team on path.
Christopher Keating is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Christopher Keating is currently a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. He currently is a member of the Centre County Report. Christopher has interned in is home state of Georgia where he worked with WRBL News 3 as a reporter. He is also apart of Penn State Sports Night Television Network.