Scouting New Hoop Players

With five incoming freshmen, a junior college transfer and a couple of walk-ons, Penn State fans really are going to need a program to follow the young Nittany Lion basketball team in 2005-06. Which is why we stopped by the BJC a couple of times in recent weeks to watch the squad play summer pickup ball.

The only newcomer not on hand for the games was big man Joonas Suotamo, who will enroll at PSU for the fall semester after playing for a national team in his native Finland over the summer. What follows are brief scouting reports for each of the new faces. Keep in mind that these are based on only a couple of exposures under less than formal playing conditions.

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MILOS BOGETIC (No. 41): A prototypical Euro big man. At 6-10, he shoots and passes well, but his defense needs work. Was not much of a scoring threat inside, either, but it is difficult to gauge someone's back-to-the-bucket skills in an unstructured pickup game. How much he plays will depend on how well he does in the post once preseason practice rolls around. Penn State is loaded with 3-point shooters at other positions. The glaring need is power in the paint.

JAMELLE CORNLEY (No. 2): Though nowhere near his listed height (6-6), he definitely has the body to get things done in the Big Ten. The question: where? On the day I saw the team running, Cornley hit a series of 3-pointers, but he has apparently been hot and cold from long range in workouts. Again, since working the ball into the paint is not exactly a priority in these games, it is difficult to tell how effective someone's post skills are. But Cornley does rebound well, throws his weight (235 pounds) around the way you would hope and seems to be an effective passer. There have been comparisons to former Lion Jarrett Stephens. Cornley is athletic but not that athletic. As for where he plays this year, I think you'll see him as a backup at both small and power forward, and I could envision him having some defensive issues at either spot. Down the line, I'll bet he emerges into the type of undersized but hard-nosed four man PSU coach Ed DeChellis has loved through the years.

MAXWELL DUBOIS (No 1): I saw DuBois in one-on-one action a couple weeks ago but he sat out the recent full-court pickup games due to a minor toe problem. A teammate said the 6-3, 190-pounder is extremely athletic and runs the floor well. Unlike the Euros, his forte is getting things done in the open floor and playing defense, but he must work on his half-court offense. I have a feeling he may have to work on the mechanics of his jumper a bit, too, to become more consistent in that area.

DAVID JACKSON (No. 32): My guess is the juco transfer will make the most immediate impact of any of the newcomers. PSU lists him at 6-foot-3, which is way off. He's much closer to 6-1. He is very strong for his size, able to penetrate and score even while being fouled. He moves well with the ball in transition and can find the open man. He also has good range. I imagine he will be a terrific defender if he puts his mind to it. He's versatile enough to play point or shooting guard. The Lions have not had a guard with this kind of strength in the program since Titus Ivory. We'll see if it rubs off on others.

NIKOLA OBRADOVIC (No. 10): Has the goods to be a zone-buster on the wing but probably must improve his athleticism to earn consistent minutes. In the handful of games I saw, I didn't catch anything remotely close to a slash to the hole from Obradovic. In fairness, this is another instance where the player in question may be much better suited to a structured offense than helter-skelter pickup action. He passes well and does not force anything.


— Sophomore forward Brandon Hassell appears to be the most improved player on the team. The athletic 6-9, 210-pounder spent a couple weeks earlier this summer working out with former Lion Calvin Booth in Ohio. If the staff can convince him to play some defense, he could be an impact player this year.

— Senior forward Travis Parker is much thinner than he was a year ago, when he played at 245 pounds.

— Pennsylvania wing players Clay Scovill (Manheim Township) and Keith Hardin (State College) are both working out with the Lions over the summer in the hope of eventually joining the team as invited walk-ons. Both are true freshmen who are already enrolled at the university. Scovill's father, Brad, is a former PSU football player.


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