Levan Alston

Black Shoe Diaries:

Enter the staff’s current #1 target, Levan Alston Jr., who also goes by “Shawn” and/or “Shizz”.

The son of former Temple baller Levan Alston, Shizz has been a priority for Penn State since the beginning of his recruitment. In fact, the Lions were the first to offer the Philadelphia native a scholarship over 16 months ago. While schools like Notre Dame, Georgetown, Marquette, Purdue and Cincinnati have thrown offers his way, the 6’4″ scoring guard has narrowed his list down to just three contenders – Penn State, Temple and VCU.

For a while now, many have considered Alston a heavy Temple lean as evidenced by all eight of his 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions. Not only is he a legacy recruit, but Temple is also in his North Philly backyard. The scales continued to tip in the Owls favor when Alston’s close friend and AAU teammate Trey Lowe committed to the AAC program in August. But despite all of the signs pointing to Broad Street, Shizz didnt commit to Fran Dunphy on his official visit two weeks ago.

That has left the door open for Pat Chambers and his staff to seal the deal with the 4-star prospect. Alston is scheduled to take his official visit to Penn State over homecoming weekend. It will be his last visit before he announces his decision at an 8:00am press conference on September 30th at The Haverford School.

Penn State will also host Josh Reaves and Davis Zemgulis for their own officials that weekend in an obvious ploy to turn up the heat on Alston. Freshman guard Shep Garner was Alston’s AAU teammate with Team Final and is expected to be his host on the visit, as well. Clearly the stage is set for Penn State to throw whatever they can at Shizz to lure him to Happy Valley.

via Penn State Basketball Recruiting: Lions Await Levan Alstons Decision – Black Shoe Diaries.

2016 PG Anthony Cowan visits Saturday


Penn State will be hosting 2016 Bowie (Md.) St. John’s College point guard Anthony Cowan on an unofficial visit this weekend for the football game against Akron.

The three star is ranked No. 112 overall by 247Sports, and is the No. 1 player in Washington D.C.

Cowan visited Penn State in June when he picked up an offer from the Nittany Lions, and has since visited Georgetown once and Maryland two times.

The 6-foot, 170 pound guard hold offers from the Terrapins and Hoyas, in addition to offers from Florida State, George Washington, Rhode Island and Xavier.

via Penn State to host PG Anthony Cowan.

City of basketball Love:

Mike Watkins, a senior forward and Penn State commit, will be leaving the Public League for the Malvern boarding school for his final year of his school basketball, Phelps coach Brian Shanahan confirmed on Tuesday.

“Mike’s a high-energy rim protector and a guy that, his energy on the court and being his size, allows you to get a different dynamic on defense,” Shanahan said. “He’s a high-major defender, now we have nine months here to work him into being an offensive player that can contribute at some level.”

Watkins, a 6-foot-9 center, committed to Penn State last summer, before he even got to play in the July Live Periods of his 16U summer. But he’s stayed committed to Pat Chambers and staff as they’ve built a solid class around him, adding a wing in Deividas Zemgulis and a very talented combo guard in Josh Reaves to the mix, with a scholarship still left open….

via Watkins leaving MCS for Phelps School | City of Basketball Love.

Philadelphia Daily News:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State’s fall semester commences Monday, officially marking the culmination of a memorable summer for the Nittany Lions’ top men’s basketball player.

D.J. Newbill, the combo guard from North Philadelphia and Strawberry Mansion High, garnered opportunities this summer reserved for only the upper echelon of high school and collegiate players. They came in the span of a few weeks from late June to mid-July, and resulted in the chance to compete against the reigning NBA MVP and briefly as a teammate of the best player on the planet.

“Oh, man, it’s definitely been a breathtaking experience,” Newbill, a rising senior, said on a recent morning. “I really can’t find a word in the dictionary to describe my summer as a whole.”

Newbill, whose 17.8 points per game last season ranked second in the Big Ten, spent about 7 days combined competing in elite basketball camps, first at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Washington and then the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas.

Newbill’s performance in 2 1/2 days at Durant’s camp, which features the top 15 collegiate wing players, earned him a trip to the camp run by LeBron. In a somewhat off-the-cuff 5-on-5 drill consisting of three teams on the court at the same time, the 6-4 Newbill defended the 6-10 Durant on two possessions. Both culminated in post-up fadeaways, said Newbill, who added that he tried to body up Durant a bit.

How’d he do?

“He went 50 percent from the field,” Newbill said with a wide smile….

via PSU’s Newbill eager to share experiences he had with Durant, LeBron.

Is that a corner up ahead? cont’d

BT Powerhouse:

Eighty-nine. Seventy-three. Sixty-nine. Seventy-four. One hundred and twenty-three. Those are Penn State’s recruiting class rankings, starting with 2013 and going back to 2010. Coming in with the No. 13 class in the nation is nothing short of remarkable. They have two top 100 players [Mike Watkins and Josh Reaves] and a three-star small forward in Deividas Zemgulis. Pat Chambers still has one scholarship to play around with, so this class could, inconceivably, get even better. It would be one of the most remarkable recruiting turnarounds in recent memory.

via Recruiting: A look at the Class of 2015 Top-100 – BT Powerhouse.

Tom Dienhart of the Big Ten Network:


1. Penn State. You just can’t beat the backdrop of Mount Nittany on this hilly, bucolic campus. If Hollywood were to cast a college campus, it should be this one.

via Dienhart’s best of the 2014 BTN bus tour « Big Ten Network.

Penn State basketballs stunning success recruiting Delmarva could mark dawning of a new age | PennLive.com

Dave Jones:

What’s been going on lately with Penn State men’s basketball recruiting is, in another realm entirely. In comparison, it is nothing short of astounding.

This is a program where prior regimes never really attempted to mix with college hoops’ big boys on the recruiting trail in the fertile urban areas of Philadelphia, let alone the adjacent Delaware/Maryland/Virginia corridor, known in the trade as the Delmarva or the “DMV.” [sic]*

Well, that is very clearly changing. PSU’s fourth-year coach Patrick Chambers brought with him his Villanova-partner Keith Urgo as an assistant when he arrived in 2011. He welcomed aboard another member of the Jay Wright mafia last year in Dwayne Anderson. And together, they are attracting talent from the region never before seen at Penn State.

Energizer bunnies Chambers and Urgo laid the ground work by inviting groups of players and coaches up from well-known DC-area AAU teams to visit the Penn State campus through 2011-2013. The visits didn’t immediately pay dividends but gave players and their parents a look at the surroundings, made it familiar and showed them that State College wasn’t Mars but a doable 3-hour drive to a large and scenic campus.

Then, the young, charming and comfortable Anderson bolstered those relationships and finally got a pair of 4-star recruits to meetings with the closer Chambers.

In the past few months, Penn State has gained verbal commitments from 4-star rising-senior off-guard Josh Reaves, 4-star rising-junior power forward Joe Hampton and 3-star rising-senior small forward Deividas Zemgulis. All are from the DMV. Hampton played for Hyattsville’s DeMatha High before transferring to Oak Hill Academy in nearby Fairfax, Va. He joined Reaves who’d transferred from Paul VI High in Fairfax. Zemgulis is from Leonardtown, Md.

Add in Philadelphia 4-star rising-senior power forward Mike Watkins who committed last summer and suddenly Penn State has a core of talent among two classes unlike anything in the program’s history.

via Penn State basketballs stunning success recruiting Delmarva could mark dawning of a new age | PennLive.com.

* “DMV” actually stands for DC-Maryland-Virginia and refers to the DC metro area. Delmarva refers to the peninsula east of the Chesapeake Bay.

City of Basketball Love:

While [Tony Carr] did not know too much about Maryland, he mentioned that Penn State offers something that no other school can match: the opportunity to once again play alongside Garner.

“Shep Garner goes there now, so that kind of gives Penn State some upside,” Carr said. “I wouldn’t say that it’s more appealing. I think it would just be easier making the transition there. It would be just like the Roman transition.”

Carr has already visited both Temple and La Salle, and both offer him unique advantages.

“I think Temple is a great school. It’s right around the corner from my house, so I’ll be close to my family,” he said. “La Salle is a great school too. One of the coaches, Horace Owens, I’ve known him since I was a young kid. So that’s a kind of upside.”

Carr plans on visiting Penn State and Maryland in the next month, and may also take a trip to Rhode Island. He has an idea of what he will be looking for as he tours each prospective campus.

“The most important factors in looking at a college is a college where my game would translate to,” he said, “and the most important thing is where I can come in and play.”

via High-majors calling on Tony Carr after Peach Jam run | City of Basketball Love.

City of Basketball Love:

Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers had made the trip down to Gallaudet University to watch [Deividas "Davis" Zemgulis,] the 6-foot-6, 200-pound wing, who had 17 points in the losing effort.

He was impressed with Zemgulis’ performance enough to extend a scholarship offer, and quickly a relationship formed between Chambers, Somerville and Zemgulis.

It was the only offer that Zemgulis would need.

Though the original plan was to play through the whole July live period and see who else offered, by May 12, he’d come to the conclusion that Chambers and PSU offered everything he wanted. Somerville didn’t need to be convinced any further.

“The more Davis thought about it,” he said, “the more he said ‘what am I waiting for, they have everything I want?’ And I said ‘that’s my opinion.’”

That Penn State had only made the NCAA Tournament once in the past 13 years didn’t bother him in the slightest.

“I really liked the facility, the coaching staff is awesome, I could hang out with the players, I loved the campus,” Zemgulis said. “I want to help the team win, because I like being the underdog and just playing hard, playing tough.”

In a late-night consolation-bracket game at the Showdown, Zemgulis scored 13 points in a loss, with Chambers and assistant Brian Daly watching from the baseline. Though his shot wasn’t falling as consistently as it usually does–Somerville said he’s seen Zemgulis hit 40 straight in a workout–it was easy to see why the former Villanova assistant and Boston University head coach was so intrigued.

He’s got a wingspan that’s easily 6-9 or 6-10, with the ability to put the ball on the floor though he said that’s the part of his game he needs to work on the most. Zemgulis can pull up from the mid-range with a quick release but also works well off screens and drifts to open spots on the perimeter while his guards drive-and-kick.

Most impressively, though, is what he does on the other end. Far from a typical European shooter, Zemgulis is a very good athlete (and good student, with a 3.9 GPA) who will come off the weak side to block shots, rebounds well and doesn’t mind mixing it up in the paint.

“Honestly, Penn State got a steal,” Somerville said. “And I mean, that is no disrespect whatsoever to Penn State…but in terms of the top 25 rankings, there’s no doubt in my mind that he could have gone to a school in the top 15 or so. But he’s at the absolute right place.

via Deividas Zemgulis a “steal” for Penn State | City of Basketball Love.

Photo: Josh Verlin for City of Basketball Love