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Penn State Basketball: Garner Shines At Weekend Tournament As Freshman Prepare To Enroll

by on June 02, 2014 11:30 AM

Incoming freshman guard Shep Garner scored 20-points this past weekend at the Mary Kline Classic in West Orange, New Jersey prior to making Happy Valley his new home.

Garner participated in the invitation only event, competing against a handful of prospects slated to join teams in the Big East, Big 10 and ACC conferences among others. The event raised $31,000 raised for the National Brain Tumor Society (and nearly $90,000 total) since the first year of the classic which has featured a future Nittany Lion on more than one occasion.

Josh Verlin from The City of Basketball Love was in attendance and had this to say about Garner's performance.

"Though maybe not quite as highly-regarded as some of his peers, despite the fact that he’s a Penn State commit–Garner was one of four players in the game who wasn’t ranked in the top 100 in his class by ESPN, Scout or Rivals–he showed everybody just why he was selected with a 20-point performance for Team Perseverance," Verlin wrote. "Though he’s still somewhat of a streaky shooter, with a tendency to fade away even when it’s not necessary, Garner was confident and poised in knocking down shots all over the court tonight. The Nittany Lions will need some scoring help with Tim Frazier graduating, and Garner looked like he can provide some of that if he plays the way he did at West Orange."

Garner has been one of the more intriguing prospects of the Patrick Chambers era with good ball handling abilities and a skill set that could see him getting significant minutes once he has adjusted to the college game. It seems likely that DJ Newbill will shift back over the point guard position in the early going but Garner is probably the best candidate to take over that role if he lives up to his billing.

The transition to the college game can be a bumpy ride as players learn that bad habits (like fadeaway jumpers) will hurt you more than they help you against elite level defenses found across the Big Ten.

Once on campus Garner will join junior college transfer Devin Foster and freshman Isaiah Washington as the newest Nittany Lions in town. Both Foster and Washington are already on campus along with Julian Moore and Payton Banks. Foster should provide Penn State with another outside shooting threat and a college-ready body while Washington shows a nice mixture of length and athleticism although he looks like he could use a few more pounds on his frame before the season gets here.

Both Moore and Banks should see increased minutes this season. Moore is coming off of injury. Banks is just off a redshirt year but with rave reviews regarding his shooting and effort on the practice squad.

No matter what, the addition of what are essentially five new faces to the equation along with the returning corps of DJ Newbill, Ross Travis, John Johnson, Geno Thorpe and Brandon Taylor should make for another interesting season of hoops in Happy Valley.

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