Year 2 of the Micah Shrewsberry era at Penn State begins Monday night at the Bryce Jordan Center against Winthrop. Here are five things to know.
KEBBA AND THE FRESHMEN DEBUT
Penn State’s celebrated 2022 recruiting class will have plenty of eyes on it this season, and the question of “how good, how soon” will start to be answered Monday. Kebba Nije, a 6-foot-10, 237-pound forward from Centreville, Ohio, leads the way for Penn State’s class. According to 247Sports, Nije is the third-highest-rated signee in Penn State history, behind Tony Carr and Class of 2023 commit Carey Booth. Nije isn’t the only impressive prospect Penn State has. Jameel Brown, Kanye Clary, Evan Mahaffey and Demetrius Lilley are all three stars.
Shrewsberry has an experienced team, and it’s unclear how much the freshmen will play. But what is clear is that this class is a big reason why many see this as an exciting time for Penn State basketball.
Penn State’s three transfers, Cam Wynter, Andrew Funk and Mikey Henn, are all expected to play significant roles. Wynter and Funk transferred from Drexel and Bucknell, respectively, and Henn came in from Denver. Funk is one of Penn State’s team captains, along with Myles Dread, Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy. Wynter projects to be Penn State’s point guard, and the 6-foot-8, 244-pound Henn will give Penn State a much-needed inside presence.
SOME WORDS ABOUT WINTHROP
Penn State’s opponent is no slouch. Winthrop went 23-9 last season, 14-2 in the Big South and came one win away from an NCAA Tournament trip, falling to Longwood in the conference championship game. Winthrop lost its top scorer from last year, DJ Burns, who transferred to NC State. But it does return Cory Hightower, who Shrewsberry mentioned as a player to watch. The 6-foot-7, 222-pounder averaged 11.8 points per game last season, and is on the Big South’s first-team all-league preseason squad.
Oftentimes, a coach won’t reveal who he thinks his best player is. Not so with Shrewsberry.
Shrewsberry told college basketball guru Jon Rothstein that Jalen Pickett is Penn State’s best player, and its hard to argue with that statement.
Micah Shrewsberry also tells me that Jalen Pickett has clearly been Penn State's best player.
Pickett averaged 13.4 PPG, 4.4 APG, and 4.3 RPG last season. https://t.co/EQFUpzincM
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) October 20, 2022
Pickett led Penn State in scoring last season, averaging 13.3 points per game. He’s also experienced, having played at Sienna for three seasons— and making first-team all-conference all three years— before transferring to Penn State.
Pickett gave Penn State a big boost by returning for a fifth-year, and we’ll start to see the dividends of that decision starting Monday night.
WHERE TO WATCH
Penn State and Winthrop will tip-off Monday at 7 in the Bryce Jordan Center. The game can only be seen on BTN+, where payment is required. Fans can also listen to Steve Jones and Dick Jerardi on these affiliates.