There aren't a lot of wings on the Penn State roster, as most players are clearly defined into the guard or forward category. That won't stop the position from being a very important one to the 2014-15 destiny of the Nittany Lions. The team is always looking for that next star player to step up, and that guy just might come from this position group.
We still don't know exactly what Penn State's starting lineup will look like when the team opens its season this November, but we'll likely see two guards, two forwards, and Brandon Taylor on the floor. Just what is Taylor? Although he was the Lions' third leading scorer last season with 9.2 points per game last year, he was far from a steady contributor. Taylor would go back and forth between being a useful matchup kililer who was too big for guards and two quick for forwards to an enigma who couldn't put the ball in the hoop.
Sure, Taylor has the ability to post up guards and shoot threes against big men, but he's yet to put everything together yet. When his shot is dropping, Taylor is a major asset. Just look at Penn State's upset win over the Buckeyes in Columbus last January. Taylor when 4-for-7 from three-point range and scored 19 points, his highest total in a Big Ten game. For the season, though, Taylor connected on just 32 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He needs to become more efficient from long range and from the post in order to make the move from role player to star player.
Payton Banks is a player who I've been looking forward to watching since last season. It turns out he was redshirting, which is a very good reason for him not to be on the floor for Penn State. It was also the only good reason, as Pat Chambers did not get what he needed from his big man rotation in 2013-14.
With a supposedly decent jump shot and the ability to play multiple positions, Banks should provide Chambers with some added versatility and scoring this season. Although I'm still holding out hope that Banks will turn out to be a miniature version of Jamelle Cornley, it's going to be tough for the young player to create that kind of impact during his first season coming off the bench. I'll settle for some solid shooting and defense from Banks, who will give Penn State some much needed depth in both the frontcourt and the backcourt.
The other wings coming off the bench for Penn State likely won't see a lot of playing time in 2014-15. Kevin Montminy is a former walk-on whom Chambers is always praising for his work ethic and intensity. There's no doubt that playing your way from walk-on to scholarship on a Big Ten basketball team is a tremendous accomplishment that takes a ton of effort, but Montminy should only see time in short bursts if the team needs a shot in the arm.
Isaiah Washington could also see some limited time coming off the bench this year. He's a two-star recruit from Williamsport, PA who is said to be long and athletic but lacking in offensive consistency. Most notably, he can't shoot the ball too well. That would fit right in with last year's squad, but the Lions are trying to be more effective on offense in 2014-15. Washington can be dangerous on the fast break and can defend multiple positions, but he needs to expand his game in order to see serious playing time in the future.