Today marks the start of the early signing period for winter athletes, and the Nittany Lions have officially added two new members to the program.
— Penn State MBB (@PennStateMBB) November 8, 2017
This 2018 class was long seen as an important one for the program. After the breakthrough 2016 class and a lack of scholarships for the 2017 cycle last fall, this was the class expected to sustain the program's newfound recruiting momentum under Chambers. While this haul doesn't quite compare to the marks given to the 2016 class, the coaching staff was still able to fill holes with some quality prospects from renowned programs.
The Lions are expected to add a third signee, as recent commit Tolu Jacobs has yet to send in his LOI. But for now, let's meet the two newest Nittany Lions who are expected to step into the rotation next year as freshmen.
— 3ThreatTraining (@The1st_JMG) November 8, 2017
We first saw Myles Dread lighting it up against current Nittany Lions Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, and Nazeer Bostick in a game between the former's Gonzaga and the latter's Roman Catholic back in 2015.
The two storied high school programs went to overtime, with the Cahillites taking the game and the tournament championship. At the time, the Penn State trio was our main attraction, and 5'7 Chris Lykes (now at Miami) was the guy to watch for Gonzaga, but one of Lykes' teammates drew our attention. Dread's college-ready frame and Hickory High shooting stroke must have also caught the Penn State coaching staff's eyes. He was offered a scholarship after that high school season in April, took an unofficial visit in late June, and committed to the Nittany Lions on July 10.
The Dread File
- Size: 6'4"/205 lbs
- Pos: G/F
- School: Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
- AAU: Team Takeover (D.C.)
- Composite Rating: ★★★
- Composite Rank: #236 (#10 Combo Guard)
Dread's commitment has never wavered, and he's only gone on to win titles at the prep and grassroots levels since. Gonzaga won the WCAC title with Dread starting at the five. He carried that momentum over to Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit. Dread rarely left the floor for one of the country's elite AAU programs and was one game away from winning the prestigious Nike Peach Jam in July; he and TTO later avenged their defeat to the Oakland Soldiers in 'The 8' final in Las Vegas. Dread was outstanding throughout that tournament, draining 11 threes in three games.
Penn State's coaching staff has made a point of getting players from big time high school programs. Dread certainly fits that bill and has the tools necessary to step in and contribute to the Nittany Lions from the day he steps on campus. First, he'll have a WCAC title to defend. Chambers had this to say about Dread:
"Myles has been a part of winning programs in his high school (Gonzaga) and AAU programs (Team Takeover) and we feel he will fit really well in our system," Chambers said. "He is a fierce competitor who is extremely skilled, which will allow him to play multiple positions. In addition to those characteristics, he has a great shooting stroke and high basketball I.Q. We became close to his family during the recruiting process and we are excited Myles and his family are now part of our Penn State family."
Point guard was a big priority for the 2018 class, at least prior to the signing of Jamari Wheeler this past spring. Chambers targeted a number of lead guards early - Dwayne Cohill (Dayton), Wynston Tabbs (Boston College), Noah Locke (Florida), and Rasir Bolton were all offered early in the process. Knowing how critical their need was, Penn State did not wait around and locked Bolton down in the middle of the AAU season, one in which the Team Loaded guard was thriving on the Adidas circuit.
The Bolton File
- Size: 6'3"/170 lbs
- Pos: PG
- School: Massanutten Military Academy (Woodstock, VA)
- AAU: Team Loaded (VA)
- Composite Rating: ★★★
- Composite Rank: #173 (#33 PG)
Bolton had plenty of suitors chasing his commitment. Clemson, St. Joseph's, Virginia Tech, and VCU were hot on his trail, and it's not hard to understand why. A strong shooter with sneaky athleticism, Bolton is chock full of potential. He showcased his skills after committing to Penn State and looked good at the Adidas Summer Championships, leading Team Loaded in scoring en route to the tournament title. Like Dread, Bolton has a winners' pedigree between his time in grassroots and his high school days at Huntington Prep. He's since transferred to Massanutten Military Academy in Virginia, where he will play his senior season of high school basketball.
Shooting has been a bugaboo for the program since Chambers has been the head coach, whether he cares to admit it or not. Dread and Bolton certainly provide outside shooting, which is perhaps the main reason these two will feature prominently on next year's squad. Chambers had this to say about Bolton:
"Rasir is an explosive point guard and an elite student who will bring energy and passion to the court and classroom," Chambers said. "His AAU program (Team Loaded) and high school (Massanuttan Military) have given Rasir the opportunity to compete on some of the biggest national stages. He plays with toughness, can shoot the ball, and has great floor vision that allows him to make plays off ball screens. We are excited that he and his family are officially Nittany Lions."
As we learned with the 2017 class, it's too early to definitively say that this group is complete. The coaching staff originally prioritized three wing prospects for their last opening, but they missed on all of them. John Beilein came in late to snag Adrien Nunez (who will undoubtedly become the next great Michigan shooter), Jack Clark decided he wanted to stay in Philadelphia at La Salle, and Jared Rhoden couldn't pass up early playing time at Seton Hall with another AAU teammate.
Chambers then decided to move onto Jacobs, who committed shortly after his official visit for the Michigan game. However, roster attrition is always a possibility, and the Lions could still use an athletic wing. As the saying goes, recruiting never stops. Penn State will continue recruiting the 2018 class and beyond, but for now its foundation for the future has been laid with the addition of today's signees.