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Penn State Basketball: Big Recruiting Visit Thursday Highlights Growing Trend

by on June 05, 2014 11:00 AM

Georgios Papagiannis is in State College today.

Chances are you don't know who that is, and that's fine. But in the most basic sense, Papagiannis is ESPN's No. 25 ranked player in the 2015 recruiting class. The 7-foot-1, 235 pound center from Greece has recently relocated to West Chester, PA.

So is Papagiannis going to play for Penn State? Who knows. But the fact that the question has to be asked is something of a victory for a program that hasn't exactly had that luxury for the majority of its history.

June 4th marked the fourth anniversary of head coach Patrick Chambers' hiring and the visit taking place only a day after that anniversary is probably the most symbolic sign of the progress made under Chambers. The challenges of coaching at Penn State have been stated ad nauseam as often as the reasons why Chambers' tenure hasn't been an undisputed grand slam. If you want to read about that, just click here.

But at the end of the day, kids like Papagiannis would have never picked up the phone if Penn State called, let alone make the four hour drive up to State College for a visit. If you shoot enough you're bound to make some shots, and if you get enough high profile kids to visit your campus, you're bound to land a verbal commitment. All of that comes back to Chambers and his staff.

Papagiannis isn't the only one looking either. Josh Reaves, a talented shooting guard from Fairfax, Virginia who is ranked No. 71 on ESPN's Top 100 and has Penn State well in the mix for his services along with the likes of Georgetown, Maryland, Temple, VCU, and Villanova. He might be more likely to land at Penn State than Papagiannis but again, that's a problem Penn State is more than willing to deal with. Both Reaves and Papaglannis are in addition to Levan Alston who comes in at No. 81 on the ESPN Top 100 in the 2015 class and took in a practice this past September.

Penn State already has one Top 100 talent in the fold too. Mike Watkins a 6-foot-8, 210 pound center out of Philadelphia has seen his stock rise up. Watkins is No. 91 on the ESPN Top 100 and as he continues to develop that stock could continue to rise. Three star 6-foot-6 long ball shooter Deividas Zemgulis makes for a nice compliment as well.

What happens moving forward remains to be seen. The 247 scouting network has Penn State's two-man haul ranked 11th best in the nation for the 2015 class and while it might be a bit premature to get excited about that, a commit from the likes of Papagiannis or Reaves could go help back up that ranking.

More importantly for Penn State, it could go a long way towards turning last year's nine losses by five or fewer points into a handful of victories. But then again, getting the talent to play for you is only half the battle.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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