Penn State men’s basketball freshman Report Card

Story posted March 29, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Thomas English

Penn State ended its historic season with a second-round exit in the NCAA Tournament to two-seed Texas.

The Nittany Lions had an incredible season and found themselves getting contributions from a variety of new faces all year.

The transfer portal boded well for the blue and white, but former head coach Micah Shrewsberry’s first recruiting class showed a bright future ahead.

Here’s a look at how the five freshmen on the roster performed.

Kebba Njie

Coming into a program as the second-highest-ranked recruit ever brings a lot of big expectations.

Njie knew this when he arrived at Penn State and attempted to produce what his coaches and fans were looking for.

As a young player, there was a visible learning curve for Njie this season. He started the year slow and found himself making careless mistakes and getting into his head.

He found his groove in the second half of the season and earned the respect of his head coach. His aggression on the offensive glass and his increased physicality were characteristics that shined bright during this stretch.

Njie will need to add some muscle to improve his post-defense, but the pure length and athleticism of this budding star provide hope for fans of the blue and white.

Evan Mahaffey

One of the spark plugs for the Nittany Lions, Mahaffey took advantage of his opportunities early in the season.

Right out of the gate, he showed his unreal athleticism and his natural ability to make plays. He demonstrated a team-first attitude and established himself as a top freshman at Penn State.

Mahaffey saw his role decrease slightly with the rise of forward Mikey Henn, but there is no denying that when Penn State needed energy, Mahaffey was the guy they turned to.

He will need to improve his shooting ability to stretch the floor, and his IQ can only grow as he gets out of his head and starts to make plays quicker.

Since the season has concluded, Mahaffey has entered the transfer portal.

Kanye Clary

Clary established himself faster than other freshmen on the roster, but the unique dynamic he brought to the floor was easy to see.

His ability to handle the rock and shiftiness to get downhill and get to his spot played well off of All-American Jalen Pickett’s play style.

Clary has a smooth mid-range jumper and can finish tough layups at the cup, but he has room to grow as an undersized guard.

He needs to develop his ability to create with both hands, and his three-point shooting could be better, but he will be the main ball handler for the Nittany Lions.

Jameel Brown

As a sharpshooter, one would think that Brown would fit right into the Penn State system.

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native found himself stuck behind a plethora of guards and didn’t see much action.

When he did get his opportunities, Brown displayed a lot of confidence in his shooting ability, and although they weren’t great shots, confidence at this age is great to see.

Brown brings a three-and-D play style that would fit well in the grand scheme of college basketball. He will have great success as he grows into his own.

Just like Mahaffey, Brown has entered the transfer portal and will explore his options.

Demetrius Lilley

Lilley didn’t see much action this year and seemed to battle injuries and setbacks all season.

He worked hard to get his body into shape and to prepare himself for the next level, but the small ball scheme didn’t help create a role for him.

Meech, as called by his teammates and coaches, will look to continue working his body into shape and could see an increased role as his collegiate career continues.

Thomas English is a second-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email