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Penn State's X-Factor in 2014-15: Devin Foster

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The junior college point guard will play a major role for the Nittany Lions this season.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It's no secret that Penn State has a big hole to fill on the basketball court this November. One of the school's all-time best players, Tim Frazier has moved on to the NBA after providing leadership and stability at the point guard position for two of the last three years.

As you might imagine, the 2012-13 season that Frazier missed nearly all of with a torn Achilles tendon was not a pretty one for the Nittany Lions. They won just two Big Ten games while D.J. Newbill struggled to fill in at point guard while also leading the team in scoring. When Frazier returned for the 2013-14 campaign, the Lions were much improved with six conference wins including a sweep of Ohio State.

Now Frazier is gone again, but the Lions don't want to go back to being the doormat they were two seasons ago. That's where Devin Foster comes in.

Foster was a Second Team JUCO All-American last year with Vincennes University in Indiana. With 12.2 points and 4.8 assists per game, he appears to be the type of pass-first guard that the Lions need in order to keep their offense running smoothly in the post-Frazier era.

No, Penn State's offense has not recently been a well-oiled machine like the top units in the Big Ten, but with Foster stepping in as an experienced floor general and the many returning players continuing to develop, head coach Pat Chambers may have something here. But a lot depends on Foster.

If Foster -- whose 39-percent three-point shooting rate from 2013-14 is tops among all returning Lions -- can play the distributor role well enough, there will be a lot less pressure on the rest of the team to fill Frazier's shoes. Newbill will be able to work off the ball as a scorer and perhaps improve on his stellar 2013-14 performance. Freshman combo guard Shep Garner won't be forced into a major role right away and should be able to develop his game more easily. The forwards will have more room to breathe with another scorer besides Newbill forcing defenders to step up.

You get the point. A lot of Penn State's success in the coming season depends on having a competent ball handler who can also score on occasion. That means that a lot depends on Foster. I hope he's ready for the challenge.