Penn State men’s basketball midseason grades: Mike Rhoades Year 1

Penn State still has 10 games left in the regular season, but so far the Nittany Lions are near the bottom of the Big Ten in the first year under Mike Rhoades.
Wisconsin v Penn State Nittany
Wisconsin v Penn State Nittany / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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Qudus Wahab, Zach Hicks, Puff Johnson. . Frontcourt. Frontcourt. D+

Penn State just doesn’t have any size. Qudus Wahab is the team’s biggest rotational piece at 6-foot-11, but the fifth-year Georgetown transfer only averages 5.3 rebounds a game and 1.4 blocks. 6-foot-8 Zach Hicks and 6-foot-8 Puff Johnson round out the undersized front court.

With the lack of size and athleticism, Penn State ranks 292nd in defensive rebounding percentage at 69.9% and 282nd in opponent two-point field goal percentage (53.0%). The Nittany Lions are 213th in blocks per game and regardless of the raw number of blocks, they just don’t affect shots at the rim nearly enough to be an effective defensive team. 

On offense, there isn’t a post-threat on the roster, so Wahab is primarily a roller on screens, and he’s shooting 62.6% which is efficient for that type of player. However, Johnson and Hicks profile as stretch-fours, but are both shooting under 30% from three, so they don’t provide any meaningful space for Clary and Baldwin to operate. 

Wahab’s efficiency has earned the frontcourt a + after the D, but otherwise, there are very few bright spots and Rhoades will need to completely reimagine this group around Clary’s strengths because he’ll be the centerpiece of the 2024-25 team.