Wednesday was a landmark day for Penn State basketball, with the signings of 2016 recruits Tony Carr, Nazeer Bostick, Lamar Stevens and Joe Hampton becoming official. Yeah, we already knew (or in Hampton’s case hoped) they were coming, but it was still pretty cool to see this sight.
So now that it's official, is it too early to speculate on what the lineup might look like when the four new players arrive on campus? On one hand, absolutely. Not only is there an entire season that needs to be played, but there's still plenty of time for factors like transfers and injuries to take place.
On the other hand, why the heck not? It's fun thinking about these things, and the young players the Nittany Lions have now could potentially become the best team Penn State has fielded in years. So first off, here's a quick glimpse at the 2016-'17 roster.
2016-17 Penn State Roster:
- Shep Garner, G(JR)
- Josh Reaves, G (Soph)
- Terrence Samuel, G (JR)
- Isaiah Washington, G (Soph)
- Tony Carr, G (FR)
- Sam Halle, G (SR, walk on)
- Julian Moore, PF (JR)
- Payton Banks, SF (Jr)
- Mike Watkins, PF (Soph)
- Davis Zemgulis, SF (Soph)
- Lamar Stevens, PF (FR)
- Nazeer Bostick, SF (FR)
- Joe Hampton, PF (FR)
My head's already spinning thinking about the options. First off, how the back court plays out will be very intriguing. Unless he completely falls off a cliff this season, Garner will be expected to start for the third straight season. And if he lives up to expectations in 2015-'16, Reaves will also be a returning starter.
But what about Carr and Samuel? Although Carr will only be a freshman, he's the jewel of the Lions class, a guy who will probably be expected to play right away. And while fans have yet to see Samuel, coach Patrick Chambers has already said he believes the UConn transfer could start this season. And we haven't even touched on Washington, another young guy who will have a chance to play this year.
As for the forwards, how Watkins, Zemgulis , Banks and Moore play this year will go a long way in determining how that group looks in 216-'17. Watkins is expected to be a defensive stud right away, and Moore showed flashes of being a productive banger next season. So while both Hampton and Stevens will arrive on campus with big pedigrees, they may have to wait their turn if Watkins and Moore prove they can play together. On the wing, Zemgulis and Banks will get quality minutes this year, and both will need to prove they can shoot from three.
Of course, Chambers could also go with a small lineup if he decides that he can't keep two of his top four guards (Carr, Garner, Reaves and Samuel) on the bench. The Nittany Lions played D.J. Newbill at the three for most of last season, and the 6'4", 205-pound Samuel could potentially have that role as well.
As fun as this is to think about, it is just very early speculation. It'll be a while before we know how good Reaves and Watkins are, let along how good Carr, Stevens and Hampton will be. We also have no clue how Garner will look in a lead role this season, or how much improvement Banks and Moore will make.
But hey, look at the bright side. The Nittany Lions are stocked with talented youngsters, and Chambers recruiting pitch seems to be working. Hopefully for him, the Lions' success will make it difficult for him to pick a lineup.