Blue White Illustrated

May 2023

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 43 of 67

4 4 M A Y 2 0 2 3 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M T he easy explanations are always the simplest. And in the aftermath of Micah Shrewsberry's decision in March to leave Penn State after just two seasons to become head coach at Notre Dame, the easy explanations are plentiful. Shrewsberry wanted to go home. He and his family are from Indiana and have spent the majority of their lives there. Heading back to South Bend, a place where he coached previously, re- turns him to the region where he's most comfortable. Shrewsberry was unhappy with Penn State's NIL infrastructure. An experienced recruiter, he under- stands that name, image and likeness considerations are critical to success in modern college basketball and left be- cause up until the final weeks of his ten- ure, Penn State's support for NIL initia- tives was nonexistent. Shrewsberry didn't feel as though his contract was a sufficiently high priority. He left because, deep into the nego- tiating stages of an extension with Penn State, his urgency to get a deal done was not reciprocated by the administration or its donors. The relative inaction, in response to a process that began early in the season, created a rift that couldn't be overcome with a late show of support. Shrewsberry foresaw a difficult rebuild. The best players from the 2022-23 campaign won't be back next year, cre- ating an urgent need for instant-impact contributors this offseason. Without ready-to-go NIL funds to distribute, Shrewsberry's ability to restock the cup- board was limited. On their own, those explanations stand as tidy individual storylines, com- plete with heroes and villains, scapegoats and turncoats. The truth, however, is a messy blend of all four. Now that Shrewsberry is gone and Penn State has hired Mike Rhoades away from Virginia Commonwealth to take his place, it's worth revisiting the moments and events that brought the Penn State men's basketball program to this point. A Warning Sign Last August, with Penn State deep into its summer workouts, the coaching staff was feeling hopeful about the year ahead. They had been delighted with the addition of guards Camren Wynter and Andrew Funk via the transfer portal and were convinced of the team's potential. Concurrently, the staff was on the re- cruiting trail, working to lock down the follow-up to PSU's exciting five-man 2022 class. That earlier class — forwards Kebba Njie, Evan Mahaffey and Deme- trius Lilley, and guards Kanye Clary and Jameel Brown — had committed during the infancy of the NIL era. By the time the 2023 cycle began, the ground had already shifted. Having first landed the commitments of Braeden Shrewsberry in November 2021 and his childhood friend Logan Imes the follow- ing March, Penn State looked to comple- ment those two guards with two or three additional players. Top uncommitted targets included forward Carey Booth, the son of former Penn State great Calvin Booth, guards Reid Ducharme and DeShawn Harris- Smith, and forwards Amani Hansberry and Devin Royal. All of those players re- ceived four-star grades in the On3 In- dustry Ranking. Landing three of those five would have been a dream. Landing two would have been a reasonable expectation given the relationships Penn State's staff had de- veloped. All five finished the cycle ranked The unraveling of Micah Shrewsberry's tenure at Penn State was months in the making N A T E B A U E R | N A T E . B A U E R @ O N 3 . C O M Shrewsberry went 37-31 in his two seasons at Penn State. Included in his victory total is a 76-59 win over Texas A&M in March, the team's first NCAA Tournament game since 2011. PHOTO BY DANIEL ALTHOUSE The Long Goodbye

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