After an 18-16 record in the 2014-15 season, success on the recruiting trail is not the first thing that pops into the minds of many college basketball fans. For Penn State head coach Pat Chambers and his staff, it's an opportunity to right the ship and turn the program around.
The latest piece to help turn the program around comes in the form of Jenkintown, PA (Roman Catholic) small forward Lamar Stevens. The 6'6, 190-pound forward was a heavy Penn State lean, and verbally committed to the Nittany Lions over offers from Indiana, Marquette, Pittsburgh and SMU, among others. The addition of Stevens gives Penn State their third top-100 prospect in the class of 2016.
The Nittany Lions currently hold the fourth ranked recruiting class, and the 16th-best class nationally, per 247sports.com. Philadelphia, (PA) point guard Tony Carr is the crown jewel of the class so far. Carr ultimately chose to stay local over attending the revitalized Maryland Terrapins. The other members of the 2016 recruiting class are Oak Hill Academy (VA) standout Joe Hampton - a top-100 player according to ESPN.com and 6'5 small forward Nazeer Bostick.
Carr and Stevens were AAU teammates in the prep days, and spoke seriously about continuing their playing days into the collegiate stage. With Stevens on board, the Nittany Lions have added an impactful forward who looks to contribute right away.
Stevens possesses good height for the shooting guard and small forward positions. At 6'6, 190 pounds, there is room to add more muscle on top of an already impressive frame. Stevens looks ready to physically compete at the collegiate level already, and will have his senior season ahead of him to get stronger.
The best facet of Stevens' game is his efficiency in the paint and ability to finish through contact. Due to his tremendous strength, Stevens can finish at the rim with either hand. If the opposing team transitions to a 2-3 zone, Stevens could be a very reliable wing to flash to the middle of the zone or the short corner to get easy scoring opportunities due to his finishing prowess.
Stevens possesses a solid motor, as evident by his seven rebound per game average.
Areas of Improvement
Although Stevens shows flashes of having a shooting touch, the mechanics of his shooting form will need to be honed in on when he steps foot on campus. The standout forward doesn't shoot many three pointers, which will limit his offensive capabilities unless range is added on his jump shot.
Having the versatility to slash and finish in the paint, Stevens lacks reliable ball-handling to create for himself on the perimeter. The prospect will need to tighten up his handle in order to be labeled as just a finisher or a low post scorer.
Stevens is a significant recruit in Pat Chambers' tenure in Happy Valley, and could be a vital piece in the resurgence of the Nittany Lion basketball program. Far from a finished project, Stevens will have a chance to get even stronger and develop a jump shot to go along with his aggressive, attacking style of play. The Roman Catholic standout will make an immediate impact on defense and as a slasher on offense, but if he can show signs of expanding his offensive skill set outside of the paint, Stevens could turn into one of the better talents in the Big Ten for years to come.