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Dave Jones:

Is it actually possible that Penn State basketball is recruiting Philadelphia better than any college program actually in Philadelphia? Who’d have ever believed that?

But, as of today, it’s becoming true.

On Friday afternoon, I began hearing some chatter that the folks at Temple believed primo top-50 Class of 2016 big 6-4 point guard Tony Carr was headed to Penn State to join former Roman Catholic teammates Nazeer Bostick and Shep Garner. If the Temple people were right, that left only Maryland as a serious player among finalists that included Southern Methodist (in NCAA hot water) and Providence.

But then, Villanova, perhaps convinced that 5-star signee Jalen Brunson will be a one-and-done prospect off to the NBA after this year, began coming at Carr pretty hard. Could PSU head coach Patrick Chambers and his former Nova-mob posse Keith Urgo and Dwayne Anderson, actually pry a verbal commitment out of one of the best rising-senior point guards in the country, let alone Philadelphia?

The answer arrived this afternoon at Roman when Carr announced his intention to play at Penn State. Danny Earl was the most heralded point guard recruit ever to sign for the Nittany Lions (in 1993). If Carr follows through and signs, he will replace Earl in that category. That’s how big this is….

Source: Tony Carr verbal commitment sets up Penn State with core of raw talent unlike it’s ever had | PennLive.com

Is that a corner up ahead? cont’d

“I love what’s happening with our basketball program. We’ll be good forever now unless we get sloppy.”

— Joe Paterno, 1996

Pete LisickyIn 1996, Penn State opened 6-1 in the Big 10. The Nittany Lions were 15-1 overall, ranked No. 10 in the country.

The team was crisp, well-drilled, fun to watch. The brand new Bryce Jordan Center, opened for the league season, was routinely packed.

As January came to a close, the Nittany Lions had just routed a Bob Knight Indiana team 82-68, were ranked second in the Big 10 in scoring, first in scoring defense, first in three-point shooting offense and first in three-point defense.

Sportswriters marveling at Penn State’s sudden appearance on the national scene liked to point out that the Lions had no “Dickie V ‘Diaper Dandies’ ” on the roster.

No Diaper Dandies? Maybe not. But not the 1954 Milan Indians*, either.  The core Nittany Lions were highly regarded recruits:

  • Dan Earl – Parade All America fourth team.
  • Pete Lisicky – a top-50ish national recruit, won a three point shooting contest at the elite, invitation-only Nike camp
  • Calvin Booth – top 100ish recruit by Bob Gibbons
  • Glenn Sekunda – former New Jersey HS player of the year
  • Matt Gaudio – former West Virginia high school player of the year

Highly-rated recruits. Well-coached. Stayed healthy (until that point at least – Dan Earl’s back and knee troubles were to come later). No school problems – good students all.

Joe Paterno saw a strong foundation in 1996, when he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook “I love what’s happening with our basketball program. We’ll be good forever now unless we get sloppy.”

What we were seeing turned out to be something else – a perfect storm.

And it was the high point.

In the twenty years since, Penn State has cobbled together a handful of good squads, but they were all assembled from overachievers and the overlooked. Not a recipe for Big 10 success.

That’s why what has just happened – the commitment from Philadelphia PG Tony Carr – is a big deal.

For the first time since the early years of Big 10 play, Penn State is assembling a team from recruits that other people really wanted:

  • Tony Carr – 53 composite ranking on 247, as high as 38 (Scout)
  • Mike Watkins – 97
  • Josh Reaves – 102
  • Shep Garner – 173
  • Joe Hampton – 182
  • Nazeer Bostick – 240 (247 ranking)

And very much still on the board with two scholarships to give:

  • Lamar Stevens – 77
  • Dylan Painter – 254

That’s similar to what was assembled back in the mid-1990s. You can win with a group like that, even in the talent-laden Big 10.

But remember, on its way to No. 10, that 1995-96 team:

  • Stayed healthy
  • Responded well to coaching
  • Adjusted well to school

And even if these guys get close to their potential, remember that contrary to Joe Paterno’s prediction, Penn State wasn’t good forever after the last time it happened.

The Big 10 is a tough place to win. Delgreco Wilson, a truth-telling Philadelphian who follows this stuff as close as anybody, responded when an Internet commenter wrote “Penn State looking nice” with “If they were still in the A10….”

“They can’t crack the top 8 in the Big 10 with their roster and recruits… “ he wrote. “They are hurting Temple, SJU, LaSalle and Drexel… They aren’t gaining on the better Big 10 programs.”

Even if Wilson meant “passing the better Big 10 programs” – surely Penn State was finally gaining on them with Reaves and Watkins – we take the point. Penn State is batting .300 in its 23 seasons in the Big 10. Three .500 seasons and only two winning seasons.

Wilson wrote that before Carr committed. And Carr makes a difference: “Now, they beat out Maryland and Indiana for Carr (assuming he commits)… That is IMPRESSIVE!!”

A college coach (can’t remember who) once said that the hardest thing in all of sports was to move up in class in college sports. Look at the football and basketball top 25 from 25 years ago and look at today’s and you’ll see the same names.

Chambers’ recruiting hasn’t pushed Penn State into the Big 10’s upper echelon (which, by the way, would put it among the country’s top programs). But Chambers is finally winning recruiting wars against Penn State’s peers, and some teams Penn State is looking up at.

He’s doing it without luck (Jerry Sandusky anyone?) and after inheriting an empty cupboard and a full roster, and not a lot of Big 10 wins yet.

Make no mistake – that’s extremely difficult, and an incredible accomplishment.


* Nor the fictional 1951 Hickory Huskers.

Tony Carr Twitterverse

Updated with Carr’s tweet at 3 pm

Tony “Tone” Carr, Class of ’20

Tone CarrTony Carr has committed to Penn State.

He is the highest-rated Nittany Lion basketball recruit in 23 years, possibly ever. (In 1993, Dan Earl was a fourth-team Parade All America. Pete Lisicky was ranked 29 by Bob Gibbons heading into his senior year and 53 after his final high school season. Carr is rated as high as 39 — on Scout.)

He continues what is becoming a Philadelphia pipeline that was begun with DJ Newbill and has continued with Brandon Taylor, Julian Moore, Shep Garner, Mike Watkins and Nazeer Bostick.

Highly ranked Lamar Stevens of Philadelphia Roman Catholic and DeAndre Hunter of Friends Central remain on the recruiting board.

Josh Verlin has great coverage at City of Basketball Love (photo theirs, too):

“I believe I can go there and change the whole landscape, with guys like Nazeer Bostick and Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins and Joe Hampton,” Carr said. “I feel like we can change the whole school around make history up there and be special.”

* Updated with Lisicky ranking at 2:30 pm

Carr to announce at 2 p.m.

Tony/Tone Carr, down to Penn State, Temple, Providence, SMU and Maryland, set to announce this afternoon at Shep Garner’s alma mater.

  • Scout: 39
  • ESPN: 52
  • Rivals: 53
  • 247 composite: 53 – and jumped to 101 on 247 today*

* Updated 1:12 pm



July 17:

Still in the hunt for Carr, Stevens

Tony Carr, reported by City of Basketball Love, 7/17:

Tony CarrSo now there are five schools remaining in the running for the 6-foot-4 point guard, who’s ranked in the top 60 in his class by all the major scouting services.

In no particular order: Temple. Penn State. Providence. Maryland. Southern Methodist….

[On] Penn State: “I think I have the best relationship with their coaching staff, I’ve visited there a few times, the campus is beautiful. I can go there and play with one of my best friends, Nazeer Bostick, it would be a very easy transition, and I can go there and try to change that program around.”

Lamar Stevens, on Twitter, 7/24:

Stevens details also from City of Basketball Love.

Lamar StevensCommonly considered between both Stevens and Carr at this point are Temple, Penn State, Maryland, and Southern Methodist.

Stevens is still giving strong consideration to Villanova, despite the Big 5 school not offering Carr as well.

Both Temple and Penn State appear to have realistic chances of landing the duo as Carr and Stevens inch closer to making their college decisions.

Images from City of Basketball Love

Eric Gibson:


Where were PSU’s main targets this past weekend and how did they perform?

Source: Penn State Basketball Recruiting: Recapping the Second July Evaluation Period

Chad Markulics:

Last weekend was the first of three major evaluation periods in July, and Penn State’s coaches were joined by a few hundred of their colleagues at the Nike Peach Jam in Augusta, SC, among other events, considered by many to be the premier event in grassroots basketball. The subject of Pat Chambers’ evaluations was, of course, Team Final. The Philadelphia AAU program normally features Tony Carr, but Penn State’s top target sat out the entirety of Peach Jam with a hip injury. Without their star guard, Team Final struggled to a 1-4 record, though the lone win came in an upset against top overall prospect Harry Giles’ Team CP3.

Source: Penn State Basketball Recruiting: Recapping the First July Evaluation Period – Black Shoe Diaries

Eric Gibson:

We’re almost exactly halfway through the college basketball offseason, which means the crucial July live recruiting periods are here. If you haven’t been paying attention, this is the most important month on the college basketball recruiting calendar. Over three 5-day periods, college coaches will be evaluating as many prospects as they can at various AAU gyms across the country.

For Penn State, we’ve been talking for months about the importance of this recruiting class and the impact it will have on the direction Pat Chambers’ program ultimately takes. While the results on the floor have been particularly unimpressive in four years, this staff has made a positive impression on the recruiting trail. One the program desperately needs to grow to breakthrough in the Big Ten…

Source: Penn State Basketball: 2015 July Recruiting Primer – Black Shoe Diaries