Philadelphia Roman Catholic point guard Shep Garner isn't afraid of a little competition.
Following the departure of Tim Frazier to graduation and a transfer for Graham Woodward, the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder appeared to be the sole heir to the 1-spot for the Nittany Lions' 2014-15 season. Needing to quickly replenish depth at a position all-too-familiar with not having enough of it, head coach Patrick Chambers quickly brought in second-team juco All-American Devin Foster out of Vincennes University in Indiana just two weekends ago.
Rather than being taken aback by the development, the second-team all-state Garner said he looked positively at the opportunity now in front of him.
"When I first heard about it, the normal person would be like, 'Wow, they brought in a point guard?' But me, I look at it in a different way," he said. "I look at it that I gotta compete. Competing is great!
"I think coming in there and competing for a spot, and not being given to you, I think that's better than it being given to you because when you actually work for something and you get it, you don't want to lose it. I think you appreciate it more when you actually work for it."
No doubt, garner has been doing exactly that.
Working diligently in the weight room before his high school graduation in the coming weeks, Garner is set to officially begin his career as a Nittany Lion when Penn State's first summer session begins June 29.
Consistently referring to himself as a "ballplayer" rather than simply a true point guard, scoring guard or combo guard, Garner is coming off a season in which he helped lead the Cahillites to a 23-5 season, capped by a disappointing 64-52 loss to Lower Merion in the second round of the Pennsylvania AAAA boys' basketball state tournament.
Though admittedly still disappointed by the incompletion of his team's stated goal to win a state championship, Garner said he was determined to take the learning experience and "carry that fire" with him to Penn State. For the Nittany Lions, it couldn't come at a better time, of course.
Locked in the purgatory of a season that brought its share of both positives and disappointing results, the Nittany Lions will welcome Garner's skill set.
"My strength, to me, is that I can shoot the ball. I have a really good stroke, so I can shoot really good with the best of them," Garner said. "I think of myself as a smart guard. I can do a little bit of everything as far as I can shoot, I can pass, I can run the team, score the ball really well. Whatever coach needs me to do, I'm going to be able to do it."
Combined with his sense of confidence and passion for competition, Garner admittedly can't wait for the conclusion of his high school career and the start of his life's next chapter.
Said Garner, "I think everything worked out perfectly in my favor. Tim graduating and Graham transferring, I think that worked out in my favor.
"I think I definitely will be able to come in and fill that Tim Frazier role. I'm young, but I think I can come in and lead us."