Why Penn State’s 2022 men’s basketball recruiting class is the best in program history | Reviews | Penn State Sports News
When Micah Shrewsberry acquired the head coaching job at Penn State in March 2021, the Nittany Lion faithful were immediately intrigued by the hire.
Bringing in a guy who had coached great NBA players such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Kyrie Irving, while also being the primary assistant to one of the Butler Bulldogs’ most historic national championship finalists, was an important step in the right direction for the program.
While expectations skyrocketed as soon as Shrewsberry walked onto campus, I don’t know if anyone would have believed that just a year after he was hired, he would get the best recruiting class in the program’s history.
Nonetheless, he did, and the rising young core of the blues and whites should thrill fans for the hoops’ return to Happy Valley.
The class is led by the 4-star Kebba Njie center of La Lumière school. The Light is certainly adept at producing top college players, some of whom have gone on to illustrious careers in the pros.
Some prominent alumni include Jordan Poole, Jaren Jackson Jr., Isaiah Stewart, and new lottery picks Jaden Ivey and Jeremy Sochan.
Njie has the potential to add his name to this long list of players who have enjoyed tremendous success throughout their college careers and added an impressive career in the NBA.
The 6-foot-10 center ranks third among rookies in program history, behind Tony Carr and Carey Booth, who was recently signed in 2023.
Njie has what it takes to make an immediate impact on the court this year, especially with the squad’s lack of size with the departure of John Harrar.
The roster only includes four players above the height of 6-foot-6, including Njie’s co-freshman tall Demetrius Lilley.
Lilley hails from Lower Merion High School, most notably known as where it all began for the late great Kobe Bryant.
During his four seasons as a member of the Aces, Lilley became the program’s all-time leading rebounder, while guiding his team to back-to-back PIAA District 1 Championships as a junior and senior.
The 6-foot-10 behemoth also became the first player in Lower Merion history to average a double-double in three consecutive seasons since the aforementioned Bryant.
Despite his exceptional talent for bouncing the basketball, Lilley won’t be the only one counting on him to clean the boards this campaign.
Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati native Evan Mahaffey has perhaps the most intriguing skill of any student in the class. The reasonably described “guard/forward” was considered the No. 3 prospect in Ohio.
Mahaffey’s 6-foot-6 build and guarding skills will translate very well to the college level, as he’ll be able to bully smaller guards into the paint and outrun larger guards with or without the ball.
Mahaffey averaged 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.6 blocks per game in his senior season before being named a finalist for 2022 Ohio Mr. Basketball.
His skills and great versatility allow Shrewsberry to use him in multiple ways.
While the class is led by three players known to be dominant inner strengths, the group also includes two very talented guards in Jameel Brown and Kanye Clary.
Brown is the seventh highest-rated recruit in school history and one of the top 25 shooters in the nation, according to ESPN.
The Philadelphia native originally signed up with Purdue because he was impressed with the coaching style of Shrewsberry and company.
However, once Shrewsberry signed his deal to become Penn State’s head coach, Brown immediately reversed his commitment.
Finally, the 2022 class is rounded out by 5-foot-11 point guard Kanye Clary.
Clary’s roots come from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and specifically Princess Ann High School and Massanutten Military Academy.
Clary was rated a 4-star rookie by ESPN, having scored over 2,000 points, and served as captain for four years during his high school career.
Especially with the departures of Sam Sessoms and Jaheam Cornwall, Clary will have an important role to play in leading the attack at the top of the key.
Recent basketball trends call for elite-level play from point guard, and Clary has all the intangibles to be exactly what the Nittany Lions will need to break into the NCAA Tournament.
While youth play a huge role in determining whether a team is ready to compete in a formidable conference like the Big Ten, these five young men have proven they are certainly capable of taking on their roles at the start of this season.
Alongside returning veterans Seth Lundy, Myles Dread, Jalen Pickett and Dallion Johnson, these freshmen have all the resources they need to understand what it takes to compete in the Big Ten and prove why the Class of 2022 will remain the best. class never taken. the ground for the blues and whites.
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