Basketball Freshmen Following: Week 11
The struggle is real for Penn State basketball. This last month in the regular season would go a long way in determining its postseason fate, but a terrible loss to Rutgers has to make one question whether they are worthy of any form of postseason bid.
Much of their struggles have been defined by poor play on the glass and very inconsistent offense. They also have been far too reliant on the freshmen. While talented, the freshmen have not gotten consistent help from many of the surrounding players. However, all of them have bright futures ahead and will be the faces of this program for the next several years.
Tony Carr has stepped in at the point guard position and has had a solid rookie campaign. He was one of the few bright spots for the Nittany Lions against Rutgers, scoring 17 points on 11-13 from the free throw line. The negative side of his performance, like many of his games this season, was his inefficiency from the field. Carr only made three of his 11 field goal attempts. He also had four assists and three turnovers, which is a ratio that he needs to increase.
Carr for the season is only shooting 36 percent from the field, which equals his three-point percentage. He’s also averaging four assists per game but committing nearly three turnovers per contest. The key for Carr going forward will be to increase these efficiency numbers. If that happens, he has a chance to be a star.
Lamar Stevens has also had an impressive opening year for Penn State. He shows great versatility on both ends of the court with the ability to guard multiple positions and play both inside and out. Stevens was held to just six points on Saturday on only five field goal attempts. He has been the Lions’ most efficient perimeter player this season and will have a much bigger role offensively next year.
Stevens has an outstanding mid-range game and excels at putting the ball on the floor and finishing above the rim. Like Carr, Stevens should also improve his assist to turnover ratio, as he averages more turnovers than assists. He also needs to extend his range as a shooter, even though he has shown promise. He’s also a guy who could develop into an elite rebounder for a small forward, which would be huge for Penn State going forward given their struggles in this department all year. By next season, Stevens could easily be the go-to option offensively for Penn State while having the potential to be a lock down defender.
Mike Watkins, a redshirt freshman, has been a viable option on the block for the Nittany Lions. Watkins scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds on Saturday against Rutgers in just 22 minutes of action. He is an outstanding rim protector and pick-and-roll player on offense. In just 22 minutes per game, he’s also averaging almost nine rebounds per contest. Watkins needs to improve his free throw shooting, where he only shoots 64 percent, but he has otherwise been extremely efficient. The biggest thing for Watkins to improve on is to get in better shape, so he can play for longer stretches in games. Penn State simply can’t afford to play Julian Moore for half of the game anymore because he has been incompetent all year. Once he improves physically and further develops his skillset in the offseason, he could transform into one of the most dominant big men in college basketball.
Penn State has an exciting trio of freshmen that will lead this team for years to come. The talent may not be translating into great success this season, but the future is bright for hoops in Happy Valley.
Will Desautelle is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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Junior / Broadcast Journalism and Political Science