Hope is easy to buy into for fans of teams with zero to little expectations. Penn State has often been at the bottom of the Big Ten, but head coach Pat Chambers and his staff have the Penn State Nittany Lions recruiting at a high level, albeit with tumultuous seasons in the rear view mirror. The 2016 recruiting class currently boasts an impressive four man group - three of them are in the top-100.
Fans of programs in turmoil often find themselves looking toward the future to move on from tough times. The 2015 college basketball season hasn't started yet, but fans - rightfully so due to the high caliber of talent - automatically look towards the 2016 recruiting class.
It's been said that strong guard play will earn you wins in college basketball, especially in the NCAA tournament. Penn State has a long way to go before they are in tournament talks, but the addition of Oak Hill (VA) shooting guard Josh Reaves gives the Nittany Lions a well-rounded, versatile guard who should be in position to make a major impact in 2015.
Reaves comes to Happy Valley as a four-star recruit and the 74th-ranked player in the 2015 class, per ESPN. At 6'4", 185 pounds, Reaves possesses ideal size to serve as either a point guard or off-guard in college. His athletic ability and court presence allows him to play and guard both positions.
There is no debate on Reaves' athleticism. His ability to get off and cover ground is unparalleled to many other guards at his position. From his pregame dunks to tenacious approach to defense, Reaves was a matchup problem at the high school level and could very well transfer those skills to the collegiate ranks.
The former Oak Hill standout is a tremendous on-ball defender. Reaves has the ability pick up opposing point guards full court and create turnovers before the ball even crosses the time line. His defensive capabilities allow him to create momentum for himself and teammates, which could serve to be crucial for a struggling team in need of sparks.
Reaves has one of the most mechanically sound shooting strokes and could be called upon to produce from three point land. He's dangerous on fast breaks because he can attack the rim or pull up from any spot on the perimeter and make you pay.
Areas for Improvement
The main knock on Reaves in terms of offensive abilities is his lack of consistency when handling the ball. He doesn't get low enough which causes quicker defenders to deflect the ball away. Reaves could very well see playing time at point guard this season, so tightening up his handle will be crucial as the season approaches.
Penn State's official roster lists Reaves at 190 pounds, but he'll need to bulk up in order to compete with physical guards in the Big Ten and across the country. There is a good frame to work with, so this shouldn't be a glaring concern throughout his career.
Reaves is the consummate playmaker and will thrive under Chambers right away. His ability to score at multiple levels on the floor and willingness to play defense could make him one of the more exciting players to watch this season. Penn State hasn't been producing positive results on the court lately, but with stellar recruiting classes coming in - led by Reaves this season - the door is open for a Penn State basketball renaissance.