Blue White Illustrated

December 2023

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 40 of 67

D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 3 41 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M Now that Baldwin has acclimated to the Nittany Lions, the point has only been hammered home further. Described as "ultra-competitive" and having "an edge," Baldwin brings distinc- tive traits as a leader. Adding three-point shooting proficiency to his repertoire, Baldwin is seen as the kind of player who can deliver for the Nittany Lions both on the court and off. "The biggest thing Ace is going to have to deal with this year is we're not going to win every game. He thinks we should win every game," Rhoades said. "His matu- rity and his leadership, he has to show us when we have a tough night or we have a tough first half, is he going to lead when we have adversity? As adversity strikes our team, like any team in the country, is he going to be able to lead us through that and out of that? The best way to do that is together, but I want him leading the way." The unlikely pairing of fellow point guard Clary with Baldwin has created a dynamic Penn State believes can create dividends. Both are dynamic ball-han- dlers who play with pace and speed, and they create opportunities for each other and their teammates. The Nittany Lions also expect leadership from the two play- ers on the floor most likely to have the ball in their hands all season. They aren't alone in the effort in the backcourt. Despite standing 6-foot-6, Kern is listed as a guard and plays like one. He's selective offensively but distributes the ball, grabs rebounds, and is a defensive stalwart for the Nittany Lions. Off the bench, Penn State will turn to Dunn as a likely sixth man. Mitchell and Brown, meanwhile, present slashing and shooting options to Rhoades as reserves. Frontcourt While Penn State boasts dynamic guards, the forwards will be counted on to maximize those abilities. Each standing 6-7 or taller, O'Boyle, Hicks and John- son are three of the roster's most potent three-point shooters. A volume shooter at Temple, Hicks will fill the role with the Nittany Lions this season with hopes that he'll match or ex- ceed his 35.6 percent three-point clip as a sophomore. O'Boyle scored at all levels with the Leopards but knocked down 196 three-pointers over his four-year career. And, although Johnson appeared spar- ingly with the Tar Heels, he can hit from deep. Their contributions from beyond the arc are essential to Penn State's success this season. "Having those guys with length and size and toughness, but also who can stretch the floor and play with great spac- ing, allows some of your dynamic guards more space to get downhill," Rhoades said. "That's got to be huge for us all year long. We've got to make shots. "To space the floor, that means we put multiple shooters out there. To be consid- ered a shooter, you've got to make shots in game action. I think these guys have done it in the past, but we've got to do it at a high clip." In the post, Penn State will rely on three bigs, led by the 6-11, 245-pound Wahab. The savvy veteran plays big and has pro- vided an early, positive developmental in- fluence for Lilley and Aire as they get their first taste of the game at this level. ■ PENN STATE 2023-24 MEN'S BASKETBALL ROSTER No. Name Ht., Wt. Pos. Year Hometown 0 Kanye Clary 5-11, 195 G So. Virginia Beach, Va. Averaged 3.7 points in 32 games as a true freshman. … One of only three returning scholarship players from last year's team. 1 Ace Baldwin Jr. 6-1, 190 G Sr. Baltimore, Md. Was a two-time all-conference point guard and the 2023 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year while playing for Virginia Commonwealth. … Averaged 10.4 points, 5.2 assists and 2.3 steals per game in three seasons with the Rams. 2 D'Marco Dunn 6-5, 195 G Jr. Tucson, Ariz. Played in 27 games and averaged 2.7 points as a sophomore at North Carolina. 3 Nick Kern Jr. 6-6, 200 G Jr. St. Louis, Mo. Made 19 starts at VCU last season and played in 35 games, averaging 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. 4 Puff Johnson 6-8, 205 G/F Sr. Moon Township, Pa. Played in 68 games in three seasons at North Carolina … Saw action in the 2022 NCAA Tournament title game, totaling 11 points and 6 rebounds. 5 Jameel Brown 6-4, 188 G So. Philadelphia, Pa. Totaled 12 points and 14 rebounds in 14 game appearances as a true freshman at Penn State. 6 Bragi Gudmundsson 6-5, 175 G Fr. Grindavik, Iceland Averaged 10 points, 4 rebounds and 1.8 assists last season while playing for U.M.F. Grindavik of the Iceland-Subway League. 11 Leo O'Boyle 6-7, 225 F Gr. Scranton, Pa. Spent four seasons at Lafayette and was the Leopards' leading scorer last year, starting 32 games and averaging 11.6 points. 12 Favour Aire 6-11, 220 F So. Ekpoma, Nigeria. Appeared in 14 games as a freshman at Miami (Fla.), totaling 9 points and 8 rebounds. 14 Demetrius Lilley 6-10, 245 F So. Philadelphia, Pa. Saw action in five games as a true freshman at Penn State. 15 Dan Conlan 6-4, 186 G Sr. Sewickley, Pa. Played in six games last season, his second as a walk-on in the PSU program. 21 RayQuawndis Mitchell 6-5, 195 G Gr. Blaine, Minn. Led Missouri-Kansas City in scoring as a senior with an average of 17.3 points per game … Reached double figures in 29 of 32 games. 22 Qudus Wahab 6-11, 245 F Gr. Lagos, Nigeria Spent three seasons at Georgetown and one at Maryland … Averaged 9.6 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds for the Hoyas last season. 24 Zach Hicks 6-8, 200 F Jr. Camden, N.J. Shot 36.3 percent from three-point range in two seasons at Temple … Averaged 9.6 points and 5.1 rebounds as a sophomore with the Owls. 33 Andy Christos 6-5, 186 G Sr. Madison, N.J. Joined the Lions as a walk-on ahead of the 2020-21 season and last year saw action in two games.

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