Penn State men’s basketball program was dealt a blow this week after learning that four-star guard and Philadelphia product, Levan Alston Jr., announced his verbal commitment to Temple on Tuesday morning.
The Nittany Lions hosted Alston this past weekend for an official visit. Although the North Philadelphia native received offers from more than 15 schools, Penn State was among his top three choices along with Temple and Virginia Commonwealth, who he also previously visited.
Adding Alston would have given Penn State its fourth four-star recruit out of the last five players to verbally commit to head coach Patrick Chambers and his staff. But even with Alston deciding to go a different route, the Nittany Lions will still bring in an impressive 2015 recruiting class, which includes four-star talents Mike Watkins and Josh Reaves and three-star forward Deividas Zemgulis.
With Alston no longer on the radar, Penn State still has one scholarship remaining for the class of 2015. The coaching staff pushed hard for Alston to become the final member of the Nittany Lions’ next recruiting class. Now that all options are back on the board, there are several skills camp attendees who still hold offers from Penn State. However, none of them has distinguished themselves as the No. 1 option for the scholarship moving forward.
Chambers could decide to keep the scholarship and use it to add a more experienced player next summer. Barring a transfer, the team will go into the 2015-16 season with four seniors on the roster, but only one senior in 2016-17, Geno Thorpe. Between now and next season, there may be a few players that catch the attention of Chambers and his staff, and having that scholarship will certainly make adding a player a much smoother transition.
There’s also the chance that Chambers will hold onto the scholarship and use it for the 2016 recruiting cycle. Four-star forward Joe Hampton was the first player from the 2016 class to commit to Penn State, doing so in early August. Penn State could use the scholarship to find support for Hampton, and the team would have four openings for 2016 if Chambers holds the scholarship until then.
Regardless of what happens, the Nittany Lions’ 2015 recruiting class is one of its best in recent memory. Landing a final commitment would still give the program a strong incoming group, even if that player is less heralded than Alston.
*Section Photo credit to Andy Lyons, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to USA Today Sports