As the slide would indicate, these players are more hopeful than probable but I’ve tried to pick guys that I think might entertain playing in the Penn State basketball program.
Jordan Davis – Guard (Wisconsin)
Davis, a 6’4″ guard from La Crosse, Wisconsin, was on the Badgers’ roster for three years. He was a package deal with his twin brother, Johnny, as a freshman in the 2020-21 season. Johnny was a draft pick after last season but Jordan stayed on.
He started the first half of the season but was eventually replaced by Wisconsin’s super freshman Connor Essegian. He still provided valuable minutes as the 6th man. Per Kenpom, Davis had an offensive rating of 106.2, which was fourth on the team.
He is an excellent ball handler, committing only 8 turnovers in 719 minutes played which gives him a 5.0 % turnover rate, which is second in the country. While this statistic can be artificially deflated by spot-up shooters, that is not Davis’s game at all.
Another area where he would excel is on defense. Extremely athletic, with a long wing span to go on his 6’4″ frame, he plays defense quite effectively, disrupting the shooter’s entire shot process.
Finally, he would relish the chance to stick it to the team that seemingly didn’t want him.
Noah Thomasson- Guard (Niagara)
This would be an absolute slam dunk for Penn State basketball. Thomasson, a 6’3″ guard from Houston, Texas, has been a two-year starter for the Purple Eagles. Niagara plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), the same conference that just gave Penn State fans arguably their best player ever, Jalen Pickett (Siena).
Thomasson is very Pickett-esque in his game. First, he rarely came off the floor this season for the Purple Eagles, averaging 36.4 minutes per game. In his second season with Niagara (he started out at Houston Baptist), Thomasson’s Offensive Rating per Kenpom was 107.5 this season. Looking at Pickett’s Offensive Rating per Kenpom for his second season and it’s a comparable 118.8.
In fact, in every statistical category that Kenpom uses, they are incredibly close. The one area in which Jalen has a decent advantage is rebounding, but even then, the margin of difference is not that great.
While it is certainly discouraging to be losing emerging talent such as Kebba Njie and Evan Mahaffey, Nittany Lions fans can look at the recent run made by Kansas State during the NCAA tournament. Only their star Markquis Nowell and important bench player Ismael Massoud were on the Kansas State team the previous season and even they were transfers.
With the hiring of Mike Rhoades and picking up a few of these quality players, the future of Penn State basketball may just be all right.