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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. Bench. Bench. C-. D'Marco Dunn, Puff Johnson, Leo O'Boyle

Rebuilding a roster in just one season is so tough because even if you can bring along a great player like Baldwin or a helpful rotational wing like Kern from your previous stop, there’s almost no way to build reliable depth because the high school recruiting window has all but passed. That’s exactly the case in Happy Valley. 

Rhoades's team is constructed almost exclusively on veteran transfers like Baldwin, Kern, Wahab, Hicks, and even Puff Johnson and D’Marco Dunn off the bench. That means much of this group won’t be back next season, and it means Rhoades isn’t developing much young talent that will play a meaningful role in the program’s future. Other than the emergence of Clary into a potential star, this has been mostly a directionless year. 

If Penn State had promising freshmen playing their bench minutes, then the lack of impact from the bench would be more understandable because at least it’s in the name of development, but Dunn and Johnson are transfers from North Carolina who won’t be around much longer, so their middling production is doubly distressing. 

Dunn is a quality backcourt scorer, who probably should be playing a bigger role in three-guard lineups sharing the floor with both Baldwin and Clary, but he plays just 16.7 minutes a game and is only shooting 33.3% from three. Sure, he’s the best bench piece the team has, but that’s just not the workload or efficiency that Penn State needs out of Dunn.