Penn State basketball: 3 players primed to level up in conference play

As conference play picks back up for Mike Rhoades' Nittany Lions he'll be leaning heavily on these three players who are about to step into expanded roles in 2024.

 Penn State Nittany Lions guard D'Marco Dunn (2)
Penn State Nittany Lions guard D'Marco Dunn (2) / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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. Ace Baldwin Jr.. Ace Baldwin Jr.. . Senior. player. Ace Baldwin Jr. . 6'1" 190 lbs. G. 491

Ace Baldwin Jr. is Penn State’s best player, so it may seem odd to make an argument for him leveling up in conference play when opponents get tougher and game plans get more specific, but Baldwin simply cannot shoot as poorly as he has. 

For his career, Baldwin is shooting 40% from the field, and 33.7% from three but this year he is at 36.3/29.9 splits. The lack of spacing is forcing his number of three-point attempts to rise above five per game, a career-high, and many are contested shots. 

Opposing defenses focus so heavily on slowing down Baldwin and Clary because there hasn’t been a tertiary scoring option on the floor, but with the emergence of Dunn and the health of Puff Johnson, the offense will become more efficient because of improved spacing. 

You can already see the change over the past three games where Baldwin is shooting 40% from three on 15 total attempts and has his three highest assist totals of the season. Baldwin will be much more comfortable as he transitions back into a facilitator role after averaging 5.8 assists per game last season at VCU. The supplemental scoring of Johnson and Dunn will allow Baldwin to do what he does best, which bodes well for Penn State’s season-long prospects.

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