TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 17: head coach Ed DeChellis of the Penn State Nittany Lions coaches during their game against the Temple Owls in the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at McKale Center on March 17, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Mediocre. Average. Alright. Sufficient.
These words that have been used to describe Penn State's basketball recruiting in recent years. The good news is, though, that's better than what was going on before the reign of Ed DeChellis. The bad news is, that doesn't win championships.
"They've shown they can pull top schools' plan B guys from just about anywhere and they rarely whiff or get stuck with stop gaps, anymore," Adam Bittner, of Black Shoe Diaries and BT Powerehouse, said. "That said, they can't steal plan A kids from Syracuse or Pitt to save their lives and let the Philly teams dominate there. They're not good. They're not bad. They're Penn State."
"If the middle of the road Big Ten team is what you expect out of Penn State, you would have to say that DeChellis has done a solid job," Wade Vanlandingham, of Penn State Central, said. "But if your expectations are that DeChellis should turn this team into a upper-tier big Ten team --meaning they finish consistently in the top half of the conference-- the recruits are not there. No one is in the NBA. No one, other than (Talor) Battle make the all Big Ten squad, etc."
This year's class, another stable of two and three-star commits, is at least being advertised as the best since the 2007 class that included Battle and Jeff Brooks.
The highlights are 6'10" big man Pat Ackerman and small forward Ross Travis. Both are kids with plenty of potential, but have an equal chance of flopping.
Ackerman, from Worcester Academy in Mass., has the body but needs to develop his abilities with the ball in his hand. Travis has struggled with back problems and could spend a lot of time in the trainer's room.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what Travis can bring to the three spot. David Jackson was serviceable there, but if Travis can attack the basket and shoot a decent percentage from the outside, he should be more versatile than Jackson was there pretty quickly," Bittner said. "Everything I've heard about Ackerman suggests he has a lot of work to do. The frame is definitely worth getting excited about, but I'm not sure he's ready for the college game, physically, yet."
Vanlandingham says most three-star recruits in recent years haven't worked out.
Penn State Central's Wade Vanlandingham's assessment of the Lions' recent three-star recruits
2009: Tim Frazier – seemed to turn the corner last year, but can he carry the team this year is the real question
2008: Chris Babb – transferred to Iowa State
2007: Jeff Brooks (four-star) and Talor Battle – Brooks took three years of playing time before he finally developed his senior year into 17-plus points per game. And we all know what Battle did.
2006: Andrew Jones and David Jackson – both good contributors, Jones regressed after his sophomore year and Jackson was a consistent 10 point per game player
2005: Jamelle Cornley – probably my favorite player DeChellis has ever had. He delivered.
2004: Travis Parker – I honestly don’t remember this kid, so I am going to say he did not pan out.
Trey Lewis, a 5'10 point guard from Garfield Heights, Ohio, and Sheridan Community College shooting guard Matt Glover are both two-star wild cards in the class as well. Peter Alexis, from Wilkes-Barre, Penn., is a 6-11 insurance policy in case Ackerman doesn't pan out.
Penn State fans expect this class to be more of the same, meaning the Nittany Lions will continue their run of mediocrity on the hardwood.
"This year is a big year from (DeChellis) if he wants to turn the corner," Vanlandingham said. "If he finds a way to finish in the top half of the conference, I will give him the 'turn the corner' vote. We go back to cellar dwellers in the Big Ten adn I say DeChellis is not different than Bruce Parkhill or Jerry Dunn."