STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Myles Dread understands his final season at Penn State could be considered a rebuilding year. He believes that the Nittany Lions have the ability to build something special on their own.
For an older team trying to bounce back from a turbulent 2020, the senior guard is one of several familiar faces. So far, the team’s experiences with new head coach Micah Shrewsberry and a handful of veteran transfers hungry to win on big stages have them eager to start.
“Coach Shrews is a basketball genius,”Dread is the best. “He knows the game inside and out. I’ve never heard a question go unanswered. He just has the answers right now.”
Shrewsberry was hired as a March coach to a team that had struggled under interim coach Jim Ferry last season.
Penn State lost six of nine games and began 0-5 at the Big Ten after Patrick Chambers, its longtime coach, resigned one month before the season opener. Penn State was investigating Chambers’ past conduct with players.
Penn State was 11-14 with seven losses in the Big Ten. Ferry was cut and Myreon and Izaiah Jones, top scorers, entered the transfer portal.
All had been key pieces in 2019-20 when the Nittany Lions spent most of the season in the AP’s Top 25 rankings. They were poised to make what would’ve been their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011 before the tournament was canceled.
Dread was also part of that squad. John Harrar was also there, as was Seth Lundy. These were the forwards Shrewsberry had worked with at Purdue.
“I’ve seen ’em, I’ve seen their stats, I’ve studied them,”Shrewsberry said. “I’ve tried to game plan against them. So it’s helped me. You do have to get up close and personal to see what it really is. Like having the summer to work with these guys, to see what they can do, now we build off of that here in the fall.”
THE BIG FOUR
Harrar’s offensive rebound total of 94 was third in the Big Ten. Lundy is the team’s leading returning scorer. Dread and Lundy averaged 10.1 points and 7.3 points respectively last year.
Sam Sessoms was a depth player and had nine double-digit scoring matches.
“They’ve played in the full arenas and they know what it’s like to win in this league,”Shrewsberry said. “They know what it takes to win in this league.”
Shrewsberry believes he has picked a few gems from the transfer portal that’ll help replace Jones’ 15.3 points per game and Brockington’s 12.6 point average.
Fifth-year senior Jaheam Collins averaged 14.1 point, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists at Gardner-Webb. He could also earn a lot of backcourt time with Jalen Pikett, another senior who starred on his last team.
Pickett was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s player of the year last season after averaging 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Siena. He also made 40% if his 3-pointers.
“He’s done a great job bringing in people, pieces that we need to win,” Harrar said. “He wants to win right away. We have old dudes that can learn quick.”
Penn State also brought in Greg Lee, a transfer forward, to the team, who averaged 13 and 7.2 points at Western Michigan, as well as Jalanni White, from Canisius.
Jamari Wheeler, an off-the-bench guard, played a record 781 minutes last year. Wheeler, one of the conference’s best energy players, transferred to Ohio State. The Buckeyes visit Penn State Dec. 5.
Penn State hosts Youngstown State on Nov. 10. Penn State opens against Youngstown State at Home on Nov. 10.
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