Penn State Basketball: Where Do the Nittany Lions Go from Here?
As the dust settles on the hiring of a new coaching regime in Happy Valley along with six players entering the transfer portal, head coach Micah Shrewsberry is left with a roster to fill and a starting five to create.
At the end of the hectic day on Tuesday, John Harrar, Jamari Wheeler, Trent Buttrick, Izaiah Brockington, Myreon Jones and Seth Lundy all entered the transfer portal. Although the decision doesn’t mean the six are officially gone yet, it is a strong indication that they all are searching for a new place to play next season.
Four of those six players were in the starting lineup by the end of the 2020-21 season, and even if some decide to return to the Nittany Lions, big men Harrar and Buttrick as well as point guard Wheeler are graduating in May and could decide to forego grad ball altogether.
So far, the sophomore Lundy has been the only one of the six to comment on a potential return. He said he wants to test the waters, and it appears that anything is on the table for the forward as of now.
“I would definitely like to see the rest of the coaching staff that [Shrewsberry] hires because obviously that’s a big part of it,” said Lundy, who ended the season as the team’s third-leading scorer at just over 10 points per game. “Obviously, I love it here at Penn State, and if they do get a good coaching staff, there’s definitely a possibility that I do stay. I just want to see everything first.”
Of the six players to enter the transfer portal, one player that seems to be set with his decision to leave is Wheeler, who had a great ending to the season, which included a career-high 19 points against Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament.
“It will always be WEARE 4EVER—5 out,” Wheeler posted on his Instagram account on Tuesday. He was the only one of the six to address the decision on that platform.
The only players who received significant minutes under interim coach Jim Ferry who have not entered the portal so far are junior guards Myles Dread and Sam Sessoms.
Besides a buzzer-beating 3 to beat VCU in December, Dread struggled earlier in the season coming off the bench before regaining his confidence by replacing Lundy in the starting lineup later to give him seven points per game on the year, but the Detroit native is more of a complementary 3-and-D player who relies on ball handlers and bigs around him.
Sessoms, the Philadelphia native who transferred to Happy Valley after two years at Binghamton, served as the sixth man and proved he could be the guy when he scored 18 against Wisconsin in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, leading the Nittany Lions in a valiant comeback attempt before falling 75-74 in the final game of the year.
New head coach Shrewsberry comes to Happy Valley with experience as an assistant coach at Purdue as well as the Boston Celtics. Following the hiring, Shrewsberry received praise from Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and GM and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
There’s still much to be determined in terms of who stays and who leaves. But for now, Shrewsberry will have one returning starter in Dread and another returner in Sessoms, who could potentially fill one of the gaps in the starting five.
What isn’t up for debate, however, is that the new head coach is going to have his hands full with reloading this Penn State roster for next season.
Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack McCune is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.