When Patrick Chambers talks about his Nittany Lions getting up and down the floor this season, one name tends to follow in quick succession.
Along with a bevy of guards, athletic wings and bigs who can all run and are in place for a faster brand of basketball at Penn State, incoming true freshman Lamar Stevens also often earns a mention. A mismatch with a “man’s body already” who will arrive at Penn State late next month with a 6-foot-7, 220 pound frame, Stevens serves as an example of what the Nittany Lions would like to see come to fruition next year.
“We want to run,” said Chambers, reeling off the names of Terrence Samuel, Shep Garner, Tony Carr, Nazeer Bostick, Isaiah Washington and Josh Reaves. “So we are athletic, we have speed, we're really fast, we want to get up and down the floor. And Lamar is going to really be rewarded by running because he's that good of a finisher and he's that fast up and down the court.”
This past season at PIAA state champion Philadelphia Roman Catholic, Stevens demonstrated as much routinely.
Pushing around the Catholic League en route to a title there, too, Stevens tallied 15 points and eight assists. For his efforts, he was awarded the Philadelphia Daily News’ Player of the Year, including a 27 point dominating performance in the Cahillites’ Class AAAA title game.
Playing alongside Stevens, who transferred in for his final high school season, teammate Nazeer Bostick described just the type of athlete and performer the Nittany Lions are adding to the roster.
“Lamar, that's a full-grown animal. He's hard to stop. I don't think one man can stop him. He's just too big and strong for everybody,” said Bostick, adding that the entire contingent of Roman players joining the program this summer have been hard at work at improving their jump shooting.
For Stevens, it could be an important development considering the transition to Big Ten basketball that is soon to begin in earnest, said Chambers.
Though Stevens’ physical size and skill are unquestioned at the high school level, the game-in, game-out nature of banging up against the bigger bodies at this level will be a transition for all of Penn State’s forwards.
“You're used to being bigger and stronger than everybody. And oh, by the way, the Big Ten, Joe you're going to be smaller, Lamar you're going to be smaller. Or they're going to be looking you in the eye,” said Chambers. “You've been playing against 6-3 guys all year long and you're 6-6, 6-7 and just overpowering these guys. I don't see that happening.”
Still, offering a complete package Chambers calls “Big Ten ready,” Stevens will have the opportunity to bring another element to the NIttany Lions that the fifth-year head coach can’t wait to see in action.
“He’s working really hard. He’s an elite finisher, an above the rim guy, he’s got a really good midrange, good post-up which he didn't really show much of (at Roman)” said Chambers. “He is a weapon because we can play him on the perimeter. If he's got a bigger guy on him, he's going to blow by him. If he's got a smaller guy on him, we can post him up. I mean, there's so many different things.”