Nick Kern– Joining Ace as the only other VCU player to move with Rhoades to Happy Valley the 6’6 G/F was the second commit out of the transfer portal in this cycle. Kern is going into year 3 with 2 years of eligibility left. Nick played a big role on Rhoades’ VCU team last year, averaging 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds on a crazy 62% from the field. Kern is a long athletic player that plays very hard on defense using that length and athleticism to create havoc on that end. His offense is more limited, coming mostly at the rim in transition, but he shows off the hops throwing down some nasty slams when he gets the opportunity.
D’Marco Dunn– The former top 100 recruit from North Carolina joins the Penn State basketball with 2 years of eligibility remaining after spending his first two seasons with his hometown team. The 6’5 guard was never able to break out behind a veteran backcourt of Caleb Love and RJ Davis. Despite not showing much yet in his college career Dunn has immense potential. He is a lengthy guard that has shown he has good defensive instincts and should fit right in on that end of the court. On offense, it is more of a mystery. He had an almost purely off-ball role in his limited minutes at UNC but based on his high school career he has a lot more potential to handle the ball. Dunn joins an interesting battle for the starting shooting guard spot which will likely consist of returner Jameel Brown, fellow transfer RayQuawndis Mitchell, and himself all fighting for that spot opposite Ace Baldwin in the backcourt.
RayQuawndis Mitchell– The 6’5 senior is the latest commit to join the Penn State basketball team. On his 5th total college, the graduate transfer has one year of eligibility remaining after putting up big numbers at Kansas City last year. He averaged 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. The efficiency was less pretty, shooting just 34.5% from the field and 30.5% from deep. Many different factors like his points per possession in spot-up situations and good shooting indicators show how he could improve that and be a huge piece for this Penn State basketball team creating for himself and spreading the floor for Ace and Kanye, but we will just have to wait and see if he can put it all together. On defense, he has great fame. That mixed with his size and strength make me an ideal fit for the press system Rhoades runs.
Puff Johnson– The 6’8 senior forward has maybe been the most high-profile addition, coming from a huge basketball program in UNC with 2 years of eligibility remaining. He averaged 4.1 points and 2.7 rebounds playing 16 minutes a game last season. The most impressive performance of his career came on the biggest stage when he dropped 11 points and 6 rebounds in UNC’s national championship loss to Kansas. He was everywhere that game, playing with extreme hustle and great defense. That was not an isolated event either, hustle and defense are his calling cards and that’s what Penn State basketball fans can expect from him. He moves really well for his size and has the positional size and length that works great for the pressure the Penn State basketball team will bring. On offense, he’s much more raw, but with his size and improving shot, he could take steps in the right direction and become an important piece on both ends.
Zach Hicks– The 6’7 forward comes to the Penn State basketball team with 2 years of eligibility remaining after spending the first 2 years of his career at Temple. Hicks started all 32 games for Temple last year putting up averages of 9.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. The main thing Hicks brings to the court is his shooting from deep. He shot 37% from deep on 5.8 attempts a game as a freshman and 36% on 7 attempts per game. He gets most of his threes off catch-and-shoot, and with his high release point and deep range, it’s easy to see why. However, when he’s run off the line he gets into trouble. His self-creation game is very raw right now and he shoots just 34% from 2 point range in his career. On defense, he seems like another great fit for Rhoades. A good wingspan and good height give him a nice positional advantage and he’s got good enough mobility to guard up and down the lineup 2-4 depending on the matchup. The best comparison I can give for Hicks is actually Myles Dread, someone Penn State basketball fans are very familiar with.
Leo O’Boyle– The last forward to talk about is a 6’7 senior from Lafayette Leo O’Boyle. Leo will be using his extra covid year of eligibility on the Nittany Lions after spending the first 4 years of his career in the Patriot League with Lafayette. O’Boyle’s top skill, like Hicks, is his shooting. He averaged about 12 points per game last season and shot 40.7% from deep on 5.5 attempts a game. Unlike Hicks however when he is not shooting from outside he is playing much more like a traditional big, taking players into the post and scoring around the rim. Leo is a high-IQ player on the floor, consistently making the right reads and limiting mistakes. He scored 17 points against Penn State in a game back in November, but it is important to note that the game was a blowout and about half of his points came when the game was already out of hand. The biggest question with Leo will be if he can make it athletically in the big ten. He has pretty slow foot speed and can often be beaten off the dribble. He will most likely have to be utilized as a specialist when the team is desperate for more shooting.