With the dust settled on rosters for the 2023-24 season, we’re going team-by-team in the Big Ten to assess where everyone stands and how things could shake out this year.
Next up is Penn State, the Big Ten’s mystery team in 2023-24, with an entirely new look, top to bottom. Gone is head coach Micah Shrewsberry, who led the Nittany Lions to a 37-30 mark over two seasons and a trip to the 2023 NCAA Tournament. In his place is former VCU head coach Mike Rhoades, who welcomes a new roster to University Park.
- Jalen Pickett (17.7 PPG),
- Seth Lundy (14.2 PPG),
- Andrew Funk (12.5 PPG),
- Camren Wynter (8.9 PPG),
- Myles Dread (5.5 PPG),
- Kebba Njie (3.4 PPG),
- Michael Henn (2.4 PPG),
- Evan Mahaffey (2.8 PPG),
- Caleb Dorsey (2.3 PPG),
- Dallion Johnson (2.0 PPG)
- Kanye Clary, G (3.7 PPG),
- Jameel Brown, G (0.9 PPG)
- Demetrius Lilley, C (0.8 PPG)
- RayQuawndis Mitchell, G (17.3 PPG at Kansas City)
- Ace Baldwin, G (12.7 PPG at VCU)
- Leo O’Boyle, F (11.6 PPG at Lafayette)
- Zach Hicks, F (9.6 PPG at Temple)
- Qudus Wahab, C (9.6 PPG at Georgetown)
- Nick Kern, G (5.3 PPG at VCU)
- Puff Johnson, F (4.1 PPG at North Carolina)
- D’Marco Dunn, G (2.7 PPG at North Carolina)
- Favour Aire, C (0.6 PPG at Miami)
Freshmen (Rankings from 247Sports Composite)
- Bragi Gudmundsson, G (not ranked, Iceland)
RETURNING MINUTES: 5.5 percent (per barttorvik.com)
WHY IT WILL WORK
Despite PSU losing their starting five and 10 total players, Rhoades has stepped in and done what could only be done by a first year coach in the transfer portal era — he’s assembled a 13 scholarship player roster with talent. He’s got high scoring guards in Mitchell and Baldwin, length on the block with Wahab, a pair of North Carolina transfers with something to prove, and a starter from Temple. Surrounding them are a host of players with high or mid-major experience who can fill roles at this level.
WHY IT WON’T
Getting players is one thing, but assembling a coherent team in just a matter of months is something entirely different. Rhoades built his reputation at VCU for having strong defensive teams, and that will make the challenge even greater in year one. His VCU teams relied on intense pressure, trapping and pressing, an approach some coaches have had to abandon when arriving in the Big Ten. And how many of these new players are wired to play that style of defense? Rhoades’ first-year adjusted defensive efficiency at VCU was not good, and his first year at Penn State could be challenging as well.
Rhoades was generally successful at VCU, where he won nearly 70 percent of his games in the Atlantic-10, and the Rams went to the NCAA Tournament two of his five seasons. He had a national top-20 defense four of the last five years, so when they’re firing on all cylinders on that end, PSU will be a challenge to deal with. With some dangerous but not elite shooters on the roster, Penn State has the look of a team that will give people problems and pull off some upsets, all while remaining wildly inconsistent. Teams that are well prepared for pressure and have good primary ball handlers will likely find success against Rhoades and Penn State in year one.
BIG TEN OUTLOOK: Bottom half of the league
PRIOR ROSTER ANALYSES:
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