Jermaine Marshall Opts to Forgo Final Season

Story posted May 16, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Eric DeBerardinis

For Division 1 head basketball coaches, late April is a time usually reserved for hitting the recruiting trail, tee times, and now caravan appearances. During his short tenure, Penn State coach Pat Chambers has come to not expect the obvious. Still, he was surprised when redshirt junior Jermaine Marshall approached him a few weeks ago with thoughts of graduating early and pursuing a professional career.

“It really didn’t seem real,” said Chambers in a Wednesday teleconference. “He didn’t seem like he really put a lot of thought into it.”

The appeal to provide for his family, which includes a one-year-old son, proved too much for the Penn State guard-forward. In recent years several Penn State basketball alum have taken their talents across the Atlantic to play professionally in Europe. Marshall aims to follow their path. Conversations with former teammates Talor Battle and Jeff Brooks helped the 22-year-old make a decision he labeled, “very, very difficult.”

The human development and family studies major is just one class, and one internship away from graduating, which Marshall is scheduled to do in early August. After that he hopes to latch on with a team overseas.

“I’m just trying to move on with things,” said Marshall. “Move on with my life.”

After the initial shock, Chambers assisted Marshall by giving him pros and cons for both staying in school and leaving to go pro.

“I tried to give him the most information I could,” said the third-year coach. “As a head coach, I thought that was my duty so he could make a sound decision for his future.”

Chambers said he spoke with at least four agents as well as former players to get their impressions on Marshall and what was best.

“I would like to thank my teammates, coaches and basketball staff as well as the faculty and fans of Penn State,” Marshall said in a Wednesday press release. “I truly enjoyed my four years at the University and learned a great deal from all of them.”

Jermaine Marshall’s Penn State journey was a long one. The Etters, Pa., native redshirted his freshman season after suffering a torn patella tendon in his senior year at Red Land High School. In each season since, he steadily progressed both on and off the court, eventually becoming the Nittany Lions’ second leading scorer and team captain.

Asked what he wanted his legacy to be, Marshall responded, “I want to be remembered as a Penn Stater. My career, we were able to great things.”

In his first season on the court, Marshall contributed 2.5 points per game off the bench, on a team that advanced the the Big Ten Tournament final and also made the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade.

Under Chambers though is where Marshall’s growth appears truly evident. Last December, following a Penn State victory, Chambers commented on Marshall.

“I have a vision of who he should be and what he should become, and he is starting to head that way.”

That vision was clouded quickly upon Chamber’s arrival as Marshall was suspended for a violation of team rules, early in his redshirt sophomore campaign. From that point on, Marshall continuously matured into a player and person the entire team respected. He averaged 10.8 ppg and 4.1 rebounds per game in 2011-2012. In 2012-2013 he elevated his game and his leadership to another level.

“He excelled in the classroom and he excelled on the floor,” Chambers described. “He started to excel in the locker room and guys started to follow his lead.”

In the absence of star player Tim Frazier, Marshall assumed a large burden and carried it fairly well. He took over some ball-handling responsibilities, and was often tasked with defending elite perimeter players. Marshall averaged 15.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.5 steals while playing heavy minutes, in what proved to be his final season donning the blue and white.

Marshall led the way with a 25 point, 6 rebound effort in one of the biggest upsets of the college basketball season, as Penn State clipped the #4 ranked Michigan Wolverines in February.

Marshall appreciates the lessons from his head coach.

“Not just in basketball but in life,” Marshall spoke of Chambers. “He taught me how to become a better person and a better man.”

At this point, Chambers should now be accustomed to players departing earlier than anticipated. In two-plus years he has seen five players transfer (Matt Glover, Trey Lewis, Peter Alexis, Akosa Maduegbunam, Pat Ackerman), and two players forgo remaining years of eligibility (Sasa Borovnjak, Marshall).

Nonetheless, the coach says he still feels pretty good about his team. Marshall agrees.

“We’re building something great here,” the soon-to-be graduate exclaimed. “Those guys will continue to do a great job.”

Next season, the Nittany Lions figured to feature as talented a backcourt trio in the Big 10 with the likes of Marshall, last year’s leading scorer DJ Newbill, and preseason All Big-10 selection, Tim Frazier. Frazier’s return from a torn achilles will be beneficial, but without Marshall, others will be counted on in replacement.

“The next guy has to be ready to step up,” said Chambers.

Suddenly a vacancy appears near the top of the guard rotation. John Johnson, a Pittsburgh transfer, will likely be eligible in December, and hopes for him remain high. Likewise for incoming freshmen, Geno Thorpe and Graham Woodward. Chambers also said his staff is investigating potential 5th-year players, and other transfers. 

Marshall said he won’t hesitate to offer guidance and, “show the love Penn State first showed me when I stepped on to campus.”

For now, another life chapter awaits.

“That’s any guys plan that plays college basketball,” he said. “You want to reach the highest level you can.”

Jermaine Marshall wants to work with kids in the future, but for now providing for his own and playing basketball for as long as possible are his main priorities.

Eric DeBerardinis is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and is the Chief Editor for ComRadio. To contact him, please e-mail ejd5136@gmail.com.