Blue White Illustrated

December 2021

Penn State Sports Magazine

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3 6 D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 1 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M MEN'S BASKETBALL N ew Penn State men's basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry felt a lot like a general manager this offseason as he pieced together his first roster. Nine players left the program after the end of the 2020-21 season, and Shrews- berry's canvas was blank. There was plenty of wheeling and dealing to be done, moves that needed to be made just to put a full team on the court when the season began Nov. 10 against Youngstown State. Wearing his GM hat as he worked the transfer portal, Shrewsberry priori- tized experience. Of the five transfers he brought in, three were super seniors, one was a senior and one additional player was a junior. The idea was to shorten PSU's rebuilding phase. "Let's build for the future, but let's build for now as well," Shrewsberry said. "Let's try and do both. Let's try and win." The offseason workouts, super senior guard Jaheam Cornwall admits, were tough. Cornwall, who transferred from Gardner-Webb for his final season of eli- gibility, needed some time to acclimate to life in a power-conference program. He wasn't alone. The other four schol- arship transfers Penn State added came from Western Michigan, Siena, Canisius and South Plains College. This power- conference program will feature plenty of mid-major flavor. "I think the toughest part was this sum- mer, after gaining a bunch of offseason weight and coming back here and going right into those hard offseason workouts and lifting and getting in shape," Cornwall said. "That was definitely a tough part for me." With the season underway, the other major adjustment Cornwall must make relates to the speed of the game at this level, he said. Everything is faster than it was in the Big South, where Cornwall landed on the all-conference team last season. Some of the other transfers put together decorated careers at their previous stops, too. Super senior forward Greg Lee — who will miss the beginning of the season with a lower-body injury — was an honorable mention All-Mid-American Conference player a year ago. Senior guard Jalen Pick- ett is a former Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year. The step up will be a challenge, and one that Cornwall, Lee, Pickett and super se- nior guard Jalanni White must conquer quickly. But with that challenge comes plenty of individual opportunity. "To me, who wouldn't want to play on one of the biggest stages in the country and display what I personally can do, and what we can do collectively as a team?" Lee said. "Also [it's about] trying to make it to the next level as well." But why Penn State? They each had other options to explore, where the out- look wasn't as fuzzy, where the coaching staff was more experienced, where there was less risk. Why end your career by building the foundation for something new? Each player offered his own unique an- swer, but there was one common denomi- nator: Shrewsberry. "What appealed to me is Coach Shrewsberry, and how he wanted to ap- proach the game," Pickett said. "I think that was the biggest thing for me, how we wanted to play on the offensive end and how he wanted to guard on the defensive end. He did a lot of stuff with the Celtics, and I think that's what he's trying to bring to Penn State." There are practical reasons for con- structing the roster the way Shrewsberry did. A priority was to ensure that scholar- ships were available beyond this season. Lee, Cornwall and White will each move on following the 2021-22 campaign. Pick- ett has the option to stay for a second year in Happy Valley. DAV I D E C K E RT | DAV I D E C K E R T 9 8 @ G M A I L . C O M The Future Is Now Micah Shrewsberry is mindful of PSU's short-term outlook while he lays the foundation for long-term success As he prepared for his first season as the Nittany Lions' head coach, Shrewsberry crafted his roster with an eye toward adding experienced players who could help the team immediately. PHOTO BY NATE BAUER

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