Penn State men's basketball projected starting 5: Ace Baldwin Jr. is back

The Nittany Lions have their retooled roster for the 2024-25 season in the revamped Big Ten conference, so let’s project who will be in the starting lineup.
Penn State guard Ace Baldwin Jr.
Penn State guard Ace Baldwin Jr. / David Berding/GettyImages
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Nick Kern Jr.. . . Nick Kern Jr.. 491. G. player. Nick Kern Jr.. Senior. 6'6 200 lbs

Kern slots into the projected starting lineup for next season alongside Baldwin. Coming off a career-high 8.7 points per game. Rhoades will keep the guy he has coached for the past three seasons in the starting lineup. Kern provides a lot of versatility on both ends of the floor, and will be a key piece to the success of this team next season. He fits very well with Baldwin in the backcourt, as they showed great chemistry together on the floor. They provided the Nittany Lion faithful with a plethora of alley-oops and backdoor cuts. 

He fits into the Rhoades mantra of tough, hard-nosed basketball better than any other player on this roster. Kern was in and out of the starting rotation last season, and he could also be used as a spark plug off the bench. However, he will likely get the starting nod for the other backcourt role, over the likes of senior guard D’Marco Dunn and sophomore guard Freddie Dillione V.

Kern brings more to the table than Dunn and Dillione, and he fits better with Baldwin due to their familiarity with one another, his rebounding, hustle, and overall fit within Rhoades’s system. The Nittany Lions were a bottom-of-the-barrel rebounding team within the Big Ten conference last season, and Kern will certainly grab more rebounds than Dunn and Dillione would as a starter. It will be interesting to see if Rhoades goes in another direction here, but I believe Kern is deserving of a starting lineup spot.