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Penn State Basketball: Chambers Optimistic For Key Returns

by on February 26, 2018 3:00 PM

For what amounts to the entirety of Penn State basketball's history, the idea that players would leave early has been unheard of. If anything, the longevity of some Nittany Lion careers have been the cornerstones of some of Penn State's most successful seasons. Experience does in fact pay dividends.

But as Penn State's season enters its final stages that question has, at least in theory, entered the conversation for the Nittany Lions.

Chief among them, Tony Carr, who ends the regular season having led the conference in scoring per game and has been the catalyst of Penn State's historically successful season. He entered the year with NBA scouts penciling in his name, and a constant stream of team reps have sat in the press box area throughout the year.

Josh Reaves, Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins all ought to garner league attention. Although Watkins' injury, Stevens' occasionally streaky nature and Reaves' lack of consistent scoring might make them better prospects a year from now. Reaves in particular though has seen his stock rise in some NBA circles with his tenacious defense and energy.

"We have those conversations in the beginning of the year but with society and social media and how things are going we try and touch base every so often about staying dialed in and present and getting better," Coach Pat Chambers said on Monday. "I think it's important that yes, that might be your future, but right now you've got to stay here. Because if you're not present and not here that's not going to help the team and really that's not going to help you. So let's just stay here, when the end of March comes, when early April comes we can address it again, but there are quick five minute conversations."

Whether or not any or all of those players should leave this offseason is less important to what will happen if they do. Penn State will be a vastly different team without Carr's services to the extent he might very well be the difference in the 2018-19 season's outcome.

A Penn State team with Carr is almost certainly in the NCAA Tournament if the strides of 2017-18 stick. Without him, the Nittany Lions are talented, but lack an obvious an consistent scorer.

The good news for fans, Chambers expects all of them to return.

"I am, and it's really exciting," Chambers said. "I feel like they'll come back and if somebody has an opportunity to go it's good news bad news, you developed another pro, that's good for your program. It's not good that they're going to leave us but you're still going to have core guys back and they're going to be older. Josh is going to be a senior, now you've got juniors. The past few games I think you've seen sophomores out there, but when you get older in this league that's when things should really start to swing our way." 

Of course Chambers probably wouldn't say otherwise if he expected any departures, but if the Nittany Lions head into the offseason with all of the key pieces in place, it's not unreasonable or unfair, to see the trials and tribulations of this season as a starting point, rather than nothing more than a missed opportunity.

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