With Penn State kicking off their season over the weekend, we take a look at one of the bright spots on Penn State's lineup so far. So who is Shep Garner?
Prized Philadelphia Recruit
When Shep Garner committed to Penn State on June 15th, 2013, he raised the eyebrows of quite a few Penn State basketball fans. Shep was considered to be Pat Chambers' first big catch on the recruiting circuit. The Roman Catholic HS product had spurned offers from Arizona, Florida, Maryland, and Temple to come to Happy Valley. While Shep wasn't a very highly ranked prospect, his offer sheet suggested that he could play at a high level. It was also Pat Chambers' first commit from Philadelphia, an area that Chambers wanted to recruit hard since he got to Penn State. A year and a half later, Shep is now suiting up for the Nittany Lions.
Coming into the season there was one area that Penn State fans had questions about. Who would replace Tim Frazier, one of the greatest point guards to ever play in State College? Pat Chambers announced that senior shooting guard D.J. Newbill would shift over to the point, a position Newbill played for almost an entire season in 2013 when Frazier was sidelined with an Achilles injury. At this point, fans were wondering who would play alongside D.J., and Pat Chambers refused to provide an answer. Fans speculated about who would start. Would it be sophomore Geno Thorpe? Senior John Johnson? Could it be JuCo transfer Devin Foster? Or would it be the heralded freshman Shep Garner?
First Game as a Nittany Lion
When the starting lineup was announced on Friday, fans were intrigued that Pat Chambers had decided to give the start to Garner. Friday was a big night for Shep; he was starting in his first collegiate game, and his mom, Kim, was singing the national anthem. His night started with a foul less than a minute into the game, and a missed three pointer a minute later. With 8 minutes left in the first half, Shep was finally able to get into the scoring column converting on a layup. Shep finished the first half with 6 points, all on layups. Penn State fans saw a player who was able to dribble into the lane and kick, and someone who was able to play the point, giving D.J. a few possessions off. That is what fans were hoping for in the starter alongside Newbill. It wasn't until the 2nd half when Penn State got a glimpse at Shep's full potential.
Shep started off the 2nd half with a three pointer on the first Nittany Lion possession. Shep made another three in the half, along with a short jumper. In total, Shep was second on the team in scoring with 14 points, to go along with two rebounds and two assists. Shep did have a few freshman moments (3 turnovers), but those are to be expected from a player starting in their first ever college game. Shep was able to follow up his performance against Morgan State with a strong game against Fordham on Sunday. Garner scored 12 points, all on threes. He also notched 2 assists against the Rams.
Through two games, Shep Garner is shooting 52.6% from the field (46.1% from 3). If Garner can keep up his strong play, Penn State may have just found their point guard of the future, and the answer to their biggest question.