Pat Chambers is in a difficult position as the head basketball coach at Penn State. He will always be operating in the shadow of the school's football team, but still has the challenge of trying to field a top notch basketball team. The same could be said about Thad Matta at Ohio State, but the Buckeye basketball program has a lot of history, and Penn State has rarely been successful.
But it appears that Chambers is on his way to changing that, starting with an impressive string of player commitments. The latest is Tony Carr, a 4-star point guard and the top-ranked player in Pennsylvania for the Class of 2016.
Before I break down Carr specifically, it's important to look at what else Carr's commitment could cause to happen. According to Onward State, the trio of Carr, Nazeer Bostick, and Lamar Stevens have been rumored to be a package deal, much like Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones were for Duke. Bostick and Carr are already teammates at Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia (where current Nittany Lion point guard Shep Garner also played), and now both have committed to play for Chambers. If the rumors turn out to be true, and Stevens does end up committing to Penn State, that would be another huge get. He is a 4-star small forward and the second best player in Pennsylvania's Class of 2016, according to ESPN.
This recruiting revolution of sorts started with the Class of 2015, when top 100 prospects Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins both signed with the Nittany Lions. The last time a top 100 prospect had signed with Penn State was back in 2010, when Taran Buie did (cue Penn State fans shaking their heads in frustration).
But let's talk about Carr. By the time he enrolls at Penn State, Garner will be the only other point guard on the roster--and as I've detailed here, Garner may be more of a combo guard anyway. Carr has all of the attributes that coaches look for in a point guard--leadership, an even-keel, and enough knowledge of the game that he can be an extension of the coaching staff. All of that was on display last season, when he led Roman Catholic to a 29-2 season and the PIAA Class AAAA state championship.
Carr is pretty big for a point guard at 6'4", and he's able to see and exploit passing lanes that most players cannot. As point guards continue to be bigger and bigger, Carr will be more than able to hold his own. He is a good shooter, both of the pull-up and catch-and-shoot variety, and has no trouble getting his shot off over big defenders. Defensively, he's not a pest, but Carr prevents opponents from getting into the paint and forces them into bad shots. The point guard position is extremely strong in college basketball, and especially in the Big Ten, but Carr will never be overmatched.
Although results may not come immediately, Chambers has Penn State in a great position for the future. With three 4-star prospects set to join the team in the next two years (possibly four if Stevens ends up signing), the Nittany Lions will have a strong core group of players, something that hasn't existed in Happy Valley in quite some time.