When Micah Shrewsberry left Happy Valley for South Bend after taking the Nittany Lions to the NCAA Tournament last season, Penn State’s roster was gutted. Jalen Pickett, Seth Lundy, and Andrew Funk entered the NBA draft and Myles Dread ran out of eligibility.
Mike Rhoades was hired from VCU on March 29 as Shrewsberry’s replacement and had no choice but to turn to the transfer portal to fill out his roster. It was too late to do any high school recruiting, so Rhoades added nine transfers, including Nick Kern and Ace Baldwin Jr. who came with him from VCU. Still, the veteran-laden lineup has holes, and there isn’t much young talent in the program.
Rhoades was unable to add depth in the frontcourt or wing shooting to support Baldwin and sophomore guard Kanye Clary. Now, with a little over a month left in the regular season and the power of hindsight, let’s look at a few of the realistic options in the transfer portal that Rhoades missed out on.
If any of these four players were Nittany Lions this year, then they may have had a shot at back-to-back tournament appearances for the first time since 1954 and 1955, and certainly not in danger of turning in the program’s 15th losing season this century.
After four years anchoring the zone at Syracuse, Edwards moved on to the Big 12 and is making an impact in West Virginia’s front court. He missed time due to an injury this year but has returned for two conference matchups at the end of January, including playing 29 minutes against Cincinnati.
Edwards is used most often as a roll-man, similar to Qudus Wahab, but has a more nuanced offensive game which would give Penn State a real post threat. He’s averaging 14.8 points and 8.4 rebounds a game this year, exactly the type of veteran presence that the Nittany Lions need in the frontcourt.
Penn State is 325th in rebounding percentage at 46.1% and Wahab is the only player averaging more than five boards a game. Rhoades is forced to play very small in Wahab’s bench minutes and that has led to games like Zach Edey posting 30 points and 20 rebounds in a 17-point Purdue win.