As college basketball works through its offseason, it is interesting to take a step back and look how things have progressed for the various Big Ten schools. In our latest series, BTPowerhouse will look at the impact the 2013 recruiting classes had on each Big Ten program.
Today, we will look at the 2013 recruiting class for the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The 2013 class for Penn State was entering at a rough time for the Nittany Lion program. Coach Pat Chambers had just completed his second season in Happy Valley and compiled a combined record of 22-41, with just six of those wins coming in the Big Ten. Chambers needed to prove that he was taking the program in the right direction. He hoped the 2013 class would show people that he was.
After the 2012-’13 season, six players left the program and that made way for this four-man class. The expectations were not to wow immediately, but to build a solid foundation for future success with Chambers.
Let’s take a look and see what became of this Penn State class.
-Graham Woodward - Point Guard (3-star Rivals)
The point guard from Minnesota went to Happy Valley over offers from schools such as Princeton, Washington State and Gonzaga among others.
Woodward was expected to come to Penn State and shoot the three. In that sense, he delivered in his first season. Woodward shot 39 percent from three-point range and averaged 2.8 points per game in 12 minutes per contest.
However, desiring a bigger role offensively, Woodward transferred to Drake after his freshman season. He sat out the 2014-’15 season, has played the past two seasons for Drake and is coming on his senior season in 2017-18.
-Geno Thorpe - Point Guard (3-star Rivals)
The athletic combo guard from Pittsburgh chose Penn State over offers from Kansas State, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Seton Hall among others.
In his freshman season, Thorpe played around 12 minutes a game and averaged 3.2 points. A promising sophomore campaign (8.7 points per game) had Penn State fans ready for a break out season.
Then Thorpe transferred.
Thorpe was cryptic in his reasons for leaving Penn State, only offering a quote to PennLive that Penn State was, “just wasn’t the right fit for me.”
Thorpe landed at South Florida and was excellent this past season averaging 15.7 points per game. His three-point percentage rose to a career-best 37.5%. After this season, Thorpe decided to graduate transfer this summer to Syracuse to finish out his collegiate career.
-Payton Banks - Small Forward (3-star Rivals)
Banks is another “what could have been” player for the Nittany Lions.
A native of southern California, Banks committed to Penn State over offers from UTEP, Pepperdine and Nevada. While Banks was under-recruited, by his sophomore year, he was a break out player for the Nittany Lions. The improvements continued this past season with Banks averaging 10.4 points per game.
However, like the others above on this list, Banks transferred out of the program. In April, Banks transferred to South Florida and will be immediately eligible for his senior season.
-Julian Moore - Power Foward (3-star Rivals)
The 6’10” Philadelphia product was the only player in the 2013 class to make it all four years. He was building towards an expanded role this past season for the Nittany Lions, but it never quite worked out. His minutes slightly dropped in 2016-’17 and he found himself in the shadows of other players such as freshman Mike Watkins.
From the beginning, the 2013 class for Penn State was going to be unheralded. The hope was that coach Chambers could mold this four-man class into quality program guys that could lead Penn State to the NIT or NCAA Tournament bubble.
It didn’t materialize.
The class was marred by inconsistent play and transfers. Only Banks made a high impact with the program, and he transferred away this summer. This class is representative of much of Chambers’ tenure. They came in and got the program to around .500 basketball and then most transferred away. If Penn State can break this cycle, a return to the NCAA’s is not out of the question. That is a big “if” at this point.