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Penn State Loses Key Freshman

The Nittany Lions suffered a major roster loss.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State fans got some disappointing news on Friday afternoon when they learned that incoming freshman Joe Hampton was transferring from the program. He had been a member of Penn State’s 2016 recruiting class and was hoping to see the floor for his first action with the program this season.

As a high school prospect, Hampton was rated as a three-star and the No. 3 player out of the state of Maryland, and the No. 63 power forward by 247Sports. He was not only a major addition in his own right, but when he committed, it was viewed as a key recruiting win over in-state Maryland and an emerging Big Ten rival.

By any stretch, this is a big hit to Penn State and its depth chart. Most expected Hampton to get some time this year and many believed that if things went right, he might even able to grab a starting spot heading into next season or beyond.

The good news is that there are still some decent options upfront. Upperclassmen Payton Banks and Julian Moore both return and former four-star Mike Watkins will be coming off a redshirt this season. Additionally, Satchel Pierce will be available in the 2017-’18 season once he redshirts this year due to NCAA transfer rules.

Hampton’s departure also opens up at least one more spot in Penn State’s 2017 recruiting spot. Considering how well the program has been recruiting over the last two years, that could be a hidden benefit if the Nittany Lions can survive the lost frontcourt depth this season. Look for Penn State to heat up its pursuit of players like Najja Hunter and Chase Johnson and possibly even put out a few more offers.

For Hampton, he will be heading the junior college route according to a report from Fan Rag Sport’s Jon Rothstein. It’s pretty easy to guess that Hampton will spend a year there before transferring to a better destination. Maryland added some major wing and frontcourt depth this year, but one does have to wonder whether the Terps would be willing to move in on the former in-state recruit again.

There’s no debating that this is disappointing news for Penn State, but if Pat Chambers can get production from his returning frontcourt options, then the Nittany Lions should be able to overcome this loss in stride.