After floating a few games above .500 for the majority of the 2016-2017 season, the Penn State Nittany Lions struggled to conclude the regular season on a positive note.
Following an 83-70 victory over Illinois on February 11, Penn State was treading water in the Big Ten with a 14-12 overall record and a 6-7 conference record. The Nittany Lions were in decent shape at earning a postseason tournament bid for the first time since the 2013-’14 season.
However, the Nittany Lions lost six of their seven remaining games and finished 15-18 (6-12).
Penn State won’t graduate any seniors in the offseason and returns its three leading scorers in Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, and Shep Garner.
Since the Nittany Lions return the majority of their talent, the 2017-’18 season may be a judgement year for Pat Chambers.
Although most of the 2016-’17 Nittany Lions will be part of next season’s squad, Penn State recently announced that guards Isaiah Washington and Terrence Samuel will be departing the program as graduate transfers.
Losing both players definitely takes a shot to Penn State’s depth, but it was tough to see Washington even being part of the Nittany Lions’ rotation if the Williamsport native stayed in Happy Valley.
Washington came off the bench in each of his three seasons on Penn State. The guard only played an average of five minutes per game this season and averaged less than one point per game, scoring 0.7.
Washington saw the floor in 17 of Penn State’s 33 games and scored a total of 12 points this season.
The 6-2 guard’s most effective season with Penn State was the 2015-’16 season. Washington played 12.7 minutes per game and scored 2.7 points per game. Washington notched a career high nine points against Iowa and went 6-6 from the free throw line against the Hawkeyes.
Though Washington being an asset to Penn State was a long shot next season, Terrence Samuel doing so was not out of the question.
Samuel played two seasons on the University of Connecticut and was a national title winner in 2013-’14 before transferring to Penn State before this season.
Though the Brooklyn product didn’t contribute much to the national championship winning Huskies, Samuel has been solid off the bench since.
Samuel was on the hardwood for 20.4 minutes per game and added 3.6 points per game for Uconn during the 2014-’15 season. Samuel also grabbed 2.5 rebounds and dished out 1.6 assists per game for the Huskies.
The guard didn’t see the court quite as often for the Nittany Lions this season, but had a better season statistically.
In 16.7 minutes per game, Samuel scored 3.9 points and collected 2.3 rebounds per game for Penn State. This included a double-digit scoring performance in which Samuel had 16 points on 4-7 shooting against Colgate.
Samuel’s best conference game for Penn State came against Wisconsin on January 24th. The guard scored eight points and was a perfect 3-3 from the field against the Badgers.
Samuel also had his best season in terms of assists, dishing out 42 with a career high seven against Grand Canyon.
Losing Washington won’t even hurt the Nittany Lions in the least. If Penn State was graduating a significant amount of players, the Samuel loss may have an impact.
However, considering Penn State returns all of its key players next season, Samuel most likely would put up similar numbers next season as the guard did this season.
The freshman duo of Carr and Stevens, along with Garner, will once again lead what should be an improved Nittany Lions squad during the 2017-’18 season. Eclipsing their win total of 15 games from 2016-’17 should not be an issue, even without Washington and Samuel.