The Mike Rhoads era in Happy Valley didn’t exactly start off on great footing considering the roster he was inheriting had five players who had run out of eligibility. Add to that the fact that Seth Lundy declared for the draft and five of the seven remaining scholarship players had entered the portal and he inherited a roster with only two scholarship players.
With Ishaan Jagiasi also choosing to leave the program to pursue a career in acting, Rhoads inherited a roster that, should senior walk-on Dan Conlan choose to return to the program for another season, had just four players penciled in.
The work was cut out for Rhoads and his staff to start to get things together quickly.
Confirmed Transfers In
Rhoads and nearly all of his staff came from VCU, so it was no surprise to see the Nittany Lions begin pursuing players from VCU who had entered the portal.
It’s like a domino effect where Penn State’s players largely entered the portal and could become targets of Shrewsberry at Notre Dame just like their entire signing class looks likely to simply become signees of Notre Dame. The exact thing began to happen with VCU players being recruited to Penn State.
Former VCU guard and reigning A10 player of the year Ace Baldwin became the first player to join the squad under Rhoads’ leadership and gave the team a fifth player.
🤝🏾 pic.twitter.com/PArNwRlyiI— Buttons Son (@yeah_ace3) April 9, 2023
A few days later, former VCU junior Nick Kern also joined in on the move.
Thank you for every part of this journey!🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/GWwAAQvecW— Nick Kern (@TheBigTickettt) April 13, 2023
Thank you for every part of this journey!🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/GWwAAQvecW
The pair of soon-to-be sophomores that did not enter the transfer portal were Demetrius Lilley (a three-star, top-10 player from PA) and Kanye Clary (top-200 prospect).
Clary was a pretty big name for Penn State because all around the program the word was that he was a leader for the team and could be a big part of how things developed.
Since Clary never entered the portal it might have been seen as a bit off that he announced he was staying online, but it also served as an endorsement for the new staff and another reason that those that did enter their names into the portal might stay.
YEAR 2 OTW #WEARE 🦁 pic.twitter.com/47hPWdFIPw— Kanye Clary (@Kanyeclary) April 13, 2023
YEAR 2 OTW #WEARE 🦁 pic.twitter.com/47hPWdFIPw
Just a few days later, following the Blue and White weekend where the coaching staff had their two new transfers on campus along with a few other players they were recruiting (including those in the portal), another domino fell into place with Jameel Brown, one of Penn State’s five top-ranked recruits ever, announcing he would stay with the program.
i’m right where I should be. WE ARE pic.twitter.com/zASaRiDEgC— worm (@JameelBrown1) April 17, 2023
i’m right where I should be. WE ARE pic.twitter.com/zASaRiDEgC
Kebba Njie (one of Penn State’s top recruits ever) and Evan Mahaffey are the two remaining pieces to what would otherwise have been Penn State’s core moving into the future. They remain in the portal and are almost certainly targets for Mike Rhoads and the rest of the guys from the 2022 recruiting class to try and convince to stick around.
Njie took a visit to Notre Dame Monday, so perhaps the timing of Jameel Brown’s announcement could help to try and combat Shrewsberry looking to poach the freshman who played the most minutes in 2022.
Penn State transfer Kebba Njie tells me that he will visit Notre Dame on Monday.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 15, 2023
Penn State transfer Kebba Njie tells me that he will visit Notre Dame on Monday.
Outside of the guys already at Penn State, the top target for the Nittany Lions would appear to be yet another VCU player in big man Jalen DeLoach. He was on campus this weekend but also announce he opened up his recruitment beyond just his originally announced “final six” (which had included Penn State).
WEARE 🦁❓❓❓ #notcommitted pic.twitter.com/uHpEAnbAoi— D I F F E R E N T 👾 (@JalenDeloach) April 14, 2023
WEARE 🦁❓❓❓ #notcommitted pic.twitter.com/uHpEAnbAoi
The staff also hosted Virginia Tech’s Darius Maddox (a junior) last weekend as they attempt to recruit him to join the program.
VCU F Jalen DeLoach is on a visit to Penn State, along with Ace Baldwin Jr. and Nick Kern Jr., who both committed to PSU in the last week. Per source, Virginia Tech guard Darius Maddox is also visiting this weekend. https://t.co/4Z0iVMqh6c— Jon Sauber (@JonSauber) April 14, 2023
VCU F Jalen DeLoach is on a visit to Penn State, along with Ace Baldwin Jr. and Nick Kern Jr., who both committed to PSU in the last week. Per source, Virginia Tech guard Darius Maddox is also visiting this weekend. https://t.co/4Z0iVMqh6c
Temple’s Zach Hicks, a junior himself, is also being recruited by the new staff and has Penn State (along with Temple) in his final four.
Hicks has canceled his visit with DePaul. Final Four is:Temple Penn StateGeorgetownUTEP https://t.co/WsK4kxtZ2i— Javon Edmonds (@javonedmonds45) April 12, 2023
Hicks has canceled his visit with DePaul. Final Four is:Temple Penn StateGeorgetownUTEP https://t.co/WsK4kxtZ2i
Qudus Wahab (a senior last year) from Georgetown is the next target to have a reported visit scheduled at Penn State.
Jon Rothstein reports he’s expected in Happy Valley next weekend.
Georgetown transfer Qudus Wahab tells me that he will visit Penn State this weekend.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 17, 2023
Georgetown transfer Qudus Wahab tells me that he will visit Penn State this weekend.
Other top pursuit’s of the staff include Niagara’s Noah Thomasson (who is visiting San Francisco and Georgia, no visit to Penn State has been announced) and Ismael Massoud, who is planning to visit Fordham and New Mexico.
2023 Recruiting Class
As mentioned previously, the Nittany Lions are now without any incoming recruits after all three members of their class requested release from their letters of intent following Shrewsberry bolting at the first chance he got. Shrewsberry’s son was one of those recruits so there was no shot at retaining him. Legacy recruit Carey Booth also appears likely to follow Shrewsberry as he seemed more interested in playing for the coach than the program his father played for.
The third prospect, Logan Imes, had mentioned at the time of his request for release that he’d still consider Penn State once their new coaching staff was in place.
Zionsville guard Logan Imes has requested release from NLI at Penn State to see what other options available. Still open to Penn State once new staff in place if there is interest. Also has great relationship with Micah Shrewsberry so Notre Dame is among options.— Kyle Neddenriep (@KyleNeddenriep) March 28, 2023
Zionsville guard Logan Imes has requested release from NLI at Penn State to see what other options available. Still open to Penn State once new staff in place if there is interest. Also has great relationship with Micah Shrewsberry so Notre Dame is among options.
There hasn’t been any updates on Imes since then regarding Notre Dame or Penn State, but the assumption amongst many is he’ll go with his fellow recruits to Notre Dame. If Mike Rhoads and his staff can figure out a way to get either him and/or Booth to Penn State in the fall, it’d be a major victory.
In a bit of a shock, Rhoads has also worked Penn State into the top five for four-star recruit Brady Dunlap.
NEWS: Four-star senior Brady Dunlap tells me he’s down to five schools: Nebraska North CarolinaPenn StateSt. John’s Villanova The former Notre Dame signee breaks down each of his finalists: https://t.co/Sf7Pc1q8Ri pic.twitter.com/P32noXmWhl— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) April 13, 2023
NEWS: Four-star senior Brady Dunlap tells me he’s down to five schools: Nebraska North CarolinaPenn StateSt. John’s Villanova The former Notre Dame signee breaks down each of his finalists: https://t.co/Sf7Pc1q8Ri pic.twitter.com/P32noXmWhl
Dunlap had been committed to Notre Dame but requested his own release after the news of a coaching change. He no longer appears to be looking at Notre Dame but Rhoads has Penn State in his final five along with Philly’s Villanova.
There’s a lot going on around the Penn State basketball team and with eight scholarships still up for grabs, the news will continue to roll in for the Nittany Lions.