Penn State figures to run in place for the fourth consecutive season. The consistency has been remarkable, as Pat Chambers' team has won either 16 or 18 games in each of the past 3 seasons. With the team losing roughly 40 percent of last year's minutes, including the offensive focal point and best defender in Brandon Taylor, I don't see any reason to wander too far from this well-trod path.
The particulars are unexciting. The 6-10 Julian Moore is the only returning player in last year's rotation taller than 6-7, so it goes without saying that scoring 2s on this defense should not be too difficult. Not a single returning player shot over 48 percent from 2 against Big Ten foes last season, so the Nittany Lions will find the task more challenging. Worse yet, only one returning player made more than 33 percent of 3s in Big Ten play. Really, only junior point guard Shep Garner can avoid the label of "offensively challenged."
All of this is to say that there's not a lot in the returning roster that provides reasons for hope for this program. But Pat Chambers has landed two of the biggest recruits in at least a decade in forward Lamar Stevens and point guard Tony Carr. In this amateur armchair talent evaluator's humble opinion, both four-star Philadelphia products are criminally underrated. They played together on the Nike EYBL circuit on Team Final, and were the primary scorers on offense. Stevens was also the team's leading rebounder, while Carr functioned as the primary distributor.
At 6-6, Stevens' game right now is that of an undersized power forward. It's not hard to project him being something of a version (hopefully Rich Man's) of Geary Claxton or Jamelle Cornley, depending on how his outside shot develops.
At 6-5, Carr is a completely different animal than anything that's come to Happy Valley in recent memory. PSU has had plenty of fine point guards over the years, but from Talor Battle to Tim Frazier to Shep Garner, they've all been undersized. Carr is not, and that is likely why he's landed inside the top-50 of the RSCI.
Other new pieces include redshirt freshman center Mike Watkins and UConn transfer Terrance Samuel, who has two years of eligibility remaining.
A NCAA Tournament appearance is too much to ask of this year's recruiting class. But it's worth noting that this year's team does not feature a single senior. Short of any unexpected departures, the team photo will feature the same players in a year. If you're a Penn State fan, that's probably going to be how you're spending this season—resigned to mediocrity for the time being, but with the expectation of massive improvement forthcoming.