With Lamar Stevens getting set for the NBA draft tonight, it’s fun to revisit this question: Who is the greatest Penn State basketball player of all time?
The answer is, in fact, Stevens, according to a survey conducted earlier this year with local media members who follow PSU basketball closest.
I conducted the poll in March when I was still working for the Altoona Mirror. The voters were: Me, Nate Bauer of BlueWhite Illustrated, Mark Brennan of Lions247 with Fight On State, Ben Jones of StateCollege.com, David Jones of PennLive.com and Neil Rudel of the Altoona Mirror.
We all voted for first, second and third place. First place received 3 points, second place 2 points and third place 1 point.
Perhaps it was recency bias, since the poll was conducted at the conclusion of Stevens’ stellar career, or maybe all of Stevens’ accomplishments truly do warrant the top spot.
Either way, Stevens finished first by a slim margin over Battle, with Crispin coming in third and 1950s legend Jesse Arnelle in fourth. Arnelle just passed away a month ago at age 86.
Here are the voting results:
- Lamar Stevens (11)
Talor Battle (10)
Joe Crispin (8)
Jesse Arnelle (3)
Titus Ivory (2)
Jarrett Stephens (1)
D.J. Newbill (1)
Here is how each member of the panel voted:
Nate Bauer: 1. Battle, 2. Stevens, 3. Newbill
Mark Brennan: 1. Stevens, 2. Crispin, 3. Battle
Ben Jones: 1. Arnelle, 2. Battle, 3. Stevens
David Jones: 1. Crispin, 2. Battle, 3. Ivory
Neil Rudel: 1. Stevens, 2. Crispin, 3. Battle
Cory Giger: 1. Battle, 2. Stevens, 3. Crispin
For the record, I went with Battle because he not only was a great scorer, he was incredibly clutch late in games. He made so many big shots during his career, from off-balance jumpers to deep 3s, that either won or tied games, and that’s when everyone in the gym knew he was going to be shooting the ball.
Stevens was a better all-around player at PSU than Battle, but there were a number of games where Stevens would miss a big free throw or jumper late in close losses. That led to my decision to put him behind Battle but ahead of Crispin, who had long been No. 2 on my list because of his brilliant shooting career and leading PSU to the Sweet 16 in 2001.