Penn State Freshmen Feeling Fine, or Futile?
It’s a word that gets thrown around the program a lot, and especially with respect to the freshmen on roster. While there are five in total, Myreon Jones, Rasir Bolton and Myles Dread make up the highly regarded trio. All three were four-star recruits, according to ESPN.com, making up one of the best Penn State recruiting classes in recent memory. However, the inability for this trio to be clicking simultaneously has proved to be the Nittany Lions’ downfall.
Yet, as we approach the halfway point in the season, there have been some bright spots from the youngsters. Rasir Bolton has rose above the crowd, averaging 13.1 points per game on 40 percent 3-point shooting. Myles Dread is second on the team in 3-point shooting behind Bolton, and Myreon Jones has gone for 18 in an upset victory over the now ninth-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies.
While seemingly good on paper, statistics can be deceiving, and these freshmen prove to be no exception. They’ve never all had double-digit scoring in the same game, and with the emergence of Bolton, the shooting totals of both Jones and Dread have suffered greatly. After taking double-digit shots in the first three games, Dread has only eclipsed the 10-shot mark once.
After a porous shooting night versus Alabama in which he went 3 for 16, Jones has seen a decrease in both production in playing time. In fact, he only has nine points total in the last three games. Whether the lackluster play of Jones and Dread in recent games can be attributed to Bolton taking a higher volume of shots or facing tougher competition in Big Ten play is up to debate. However, this much is certain: a team that has a game plan relying on 3-point shooting from freshmen is a slippery slope.
Penn State is not the type of program that can recruit-and-stash the way Duke or North Carolina can. If the Nittany Lions are to compete in the Big Ten, they have no choice but to throw its freshmen into the fire. This formula has yielded mixed results thus far in conference play, with nothing to show for their efforts in the wins column.
In conference play, Myreon Jones is averaging two points per game, Rasir Bolton is averaging three turnovers per game, and Myles Dread has taken five two-point field goal attempts. Unless this trio can mature rather quickly and overcome their respective growing pains, Penn State appears poised for a rough second half to the season. Lamar Stevens can only carry this team so much, and as made evident against Wisconsin, scoring 22 points won’t matter unless the rest of the Nittany Lions can pick up the slack.
In terms of skill, no trio is more suited to assist Stevens on the offensive end than these freshmen. Now it’s simply a matter of getting them all going at the same time. Until then, expect Stevens to continue shouldering much of the load and for Bolton to keep firing away from three.
Andrew Destin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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