Pat Chambers Putting Penn State On The Map

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Penn State basketball has always been the little brother to the football program, and there are obvious reasons why.  With two national championships and various other bowl victories, the success of the football program far outweighs that of the basketball program.  With all of this being said, head basketball coach Pat Chambers is the right man to resurrect Penn State basketball and make it relevant again. 

Chambers grew up in the Philly area, and played at Philadelphia University under Herb Magee, who was recently named to the Hall of Fame.  He came in without a scholarship and left as the starting point guard.  Chambers also left as the Philadelphia University record-holder in assists.  He moved around as an assistant coach for Delaware Valley State, Philadelphia University, and Episcopal Academy until he was hired by Villanova to be the director of operations in May 2004.  After one season, Chambers proved his worth and was promoted to assistant coach under Jay Wright.  In June 2008 Wright promoted Chambers to associate head coach.  That year Chambers would be instrumental in helping the Wildcats knock off number one seed Pittsburgh and advance to the Final Four.  After that season he left Villanova to take the head coaching position at Boston University, where he guided the 2010-11 team to an American East Championship and a birth to the NCAA Tournament.

After just two seasons with BU, Chambers accepted the position as head coach at Penn State.  The first two years have been a struggle, but there has been some success.  Last year, while the Nittany Lions struggled mightily in the Big Ten Conference, they still managed to knock off Michigan, who would lose to Louisville in the NCAA Championship game.

While the Penn State basketball team has struggled on the court, their recruiting has been quite impressive.  Going into this year, Penn State has gotten better by adding 6’3 point guard Geno Thorpe from Shaler High Schoolin Pittsburgh.  During his senior season he averaged 21.4 PPG.  Another player they recruited is 6’10 power forward Julian Moore.  This was a big signing for Penn State because of their lack of forward depth. 

The signing of a player like Julian Moore is exactly the reason why Penn State hired Chambers.  Moore played at Germantown Academy in Philadelphia.  One of the reasons for hiring Chambers was his extensive knowledge and recruiting abilities in the Philly area.  Having such a lengthy resume at Philadelphia area schools, Penn State wanted him so they can concentrate on getting the best players from their own state.  Recently Chambers and staff gained verbal commitments from two more Philly-area players last week in 6’1 rising senior combo guard Shep Garner from Roman Catholic and 6’8 rising junior Michael Watkins, who is set to transfer from Bartram High to Imhotep this fall.  While Garner is getting a lot of attention, Watkins is supposed to be a better contributor.  The big catch for Chambers would be 6’3 guard Ja’Quan Newton from Neumann-Goretti High School in Philly.  Newton, Class of 2014, is being courted by Georgetown, Miami, and Villanova in addition to Penn State.  He is listed as a four star recruit. 

Chambers still has the difficult task of competing in the Big Ten, but as he brings more of his recruits in, Penn State should be in a better position.  His ties to Philadelphia have already paid dividends to a Penn State basketball program that is only two years removed from a NCAA Tournament appearance.  Who knows, maybe one day Chambers will have us talking about Penn State football and basketball in the same sentence.