With the season only about a month away, the Penn State men's basketball team held their annual media day on Thursday in the halls of the Bryce Jordan Center. Roar Lions Roar was there and caught up with some of the key pieces to Pat Chambers' squad to ask them about the upcoming season.
Bostick Excited to Make Up for Lost Time
Penn State's rotation was dealt a blow last season after freshman wing Nazeer Bostick was lost for the year with a hand fracture in late February. Although he didn't play a huge role in the first half of the season, Bostick was seeing an increase in playing time before the injury cost him the final six games of 2017. He talked about what being sidelined at a such a crucial point of the season was like:
"It was big. My whole career, everywhere I went, I played a lot of minutes. So me being hurt, it wasn't a first for me, I got hurt a lot of times during my years in high school. But just not being out there with my team played a big role. I just had to stay focused and my team helped me do all that."
The Horse saw over 10 minutes per game in his final three Big Ten games prior to injury and started both games of Penn State's successful Bahamas tour this summer. Chambers has high hopes for his sophomore wing:
Chambers on Nazeer Bostick: "He's one of those guys I think might have a breakout year for us."
— Roar Lions Roar (@RLRblog) October 12, 2017
Julian Moore and Lamar Stevens on the Evolution of Satchel Pierce
Penn State's frontcourt had been lacking in both depth and experience over the past few years. Mike Watkins was just a redshirt freshman in 2016-17, and outside of senior Julian Moore, there were no other big men on the roster. Enter Satchel Pierce. The 7'0 Virginia Tech transfer should give Chambers' frontcourt more depth and skill that it was lacking last season. Moore talked a bit about what makes the transfer special:
"I'd definitely say his size and his skill are an incredible asset for us. He's a great player and a great person and I think he adds a great piece to our team.
Stevens then followed up with what it's like to go against Pierce:
"He brings a different type of big man on the offensive end for us. He's a big body and he uses it well but he can also shoot a little bit. He also sets really good screens. So (from when I saw him) I thought he'd be able to benefit us.
Watkins Getting Stronger
With the loss of Jordan Dickerson to graduation, Penn State went into last season wondering where the production would come from in the paint. Mike Watkins answered that question emphatically to the tune of nearly ten points and nine rebounds per game. As he enters his sophomore year, Watkins talked about what the team did as a whole to get better this offseason.
"Conditioning, getting bigger in the weight room. So now our performance is better and we build team chemistry. Everybody got big over the summer and we were all working on our weaknesses."
The nation's eighth-most efficient shot blocker in 2017, Watkins enters his sophomore season a marked man on defense for opposing Big Ten coaches. He certainly looks like he got bigger in the weight room:
Speaking of getting bigger, both Tony Carr and Bostick said they've put on over 20 pounds of muscle since last season. Those are Saquon Barkley-level numbers in the weight room.
Reaves "Hates" Freshman Guard
Josh Reaves has made his scrappy play and defensive presence a staple for Penn State over his career. As he transitions into one of the team's veterans leaders, it seems he sees some of himself in freshman Jamari Wheeler:
"Oh I hate Jamari. I tell him that every time. I hate him but I love him. Every time he's not on my team he's just so scrappy and just so annoying because you know he's always there. When he's on your team, you love him because he's being scrappy and annoying but he's on your team. I know people have told me that before. I definitely know how that is, just being fast paced. He has the same knack getting in passing lanes and being pesky on defense. I just can't wait for him to do it to other people."
A 6'1 true freshman from Florida, Wheeler brings Tim Frazier-esque quickness (coach's words, not ours) to Penn State's backcourt. He received plenty of run in the Bahamas games and looks like a lock to enter the rotation early.
We'll have more to come from media day, including Pat Chambers' season opening press conference.