Hoop Rookie Report

Analysis and video of the five freshmen working out with the Penn State basketball team this summer. We stopped by the BJC Thursday.

Football season may be rapidly approaching in Happy Valley. But the Penn State gridders are not the only ones busting it to get in top shape this summer.

The Nittany Lion basketball team, fresh off the 2009 NIT title, is aiming for the NCAA Tournament this year. And five rookies — four true freshmen and a redshirt — will all be vying for playing time.

We stopped by the Jordan Center Thursday to scout the youngsters. Below, you will find our analysis and a video featuring all of the newcomers in action.

Please note that we showed up at the BJC on a random day. And at this time of year, playing pickup is hardly all the Nittany Lions are doing. They also spend a great deal of time on conditioning.

So while this gives you a glimpse into what the rookies are all about, remember that we won't be able to make any kind of full evaluation until the season actually arrives.

Sasha Boronjvak, PF
Scouting Report:
He appears to be a legit 6-8. Strong fundamentals and a great base. He looks like one of those big-framed Wisconsin players, with thick legs for someone who still has some room to fill out up top. Played exclusively in the paint when I saw him, against center Andrew Jones. Jones scored a couple of easy buckets over him. Boronjvak had a heads-up tip-in and scored on a cut to the basket.
Early Prognosis: With Jones and Andrew Ott both back at center, it is difficult to see many minutes opening up there unless injuries or fouls take their toll. My take is Boronjvak will have to outplay a couple of people at power forward to become part of the rotation this year, and I did not see enough of his overall game to know if he can do that. But he is clearly far better than the previous PSU Euro experiments.

Bill Edwards, SF
Scouting Report:
My guess is he's in the 6-3 to 6-4 range. I'd be shocked if he's 6-6, as was previously reported. I don't think he is 220, either. More in the 205-210 range. He played against Cammeron Woodyard when I was there and more than held his own. He has a nice handle for his size and a certain smoothness to his game. He ended one game by taking a pass off a screen, pump-faking, waiting for Woodyard to float by, and then calmly hitting a 17-footer. Seems to get by more on guile than pure athleticism, and I mean that in a positive way.
Early Prognosis: He'll be in that mix of players at shooting guard and small forward this year. The kind of heady player Ed DeChellis loves.

Tim Frazier, G
Scouting Report:
He is an inch or so taller than Battle but is really thin. Might have the skinniest legs I've ever seen on a major-college player. But he is really fast with the ball — just kind of glides up the floor. He went head to head with Battle the whole time I was there, and did not look slow while compared to the junior. That's an accomplishment. Frazier was a little reckless on drives to the basket, but he was not afraid to take it in among the big men. And he REALLY gets up. He jumps as well as any Penn State player I've covered. I only saw him take one three-point shot when I was there and he hit it. He had his hands full with Battle on defense, but any freshman would.
Early Prognosis: He is the backup point guard. Offensively, he is good enough to play alongside Battle in a turbocharged backcourt (think Battle and Stanley Pringle last year). I could see them giving lower-level nonconference opponents fits. But I don't think Frazier is strong enough defensively for the staff to mess with that kind of lineup against the heavy hitters on the slate.

Jermaine Marshall, SG
Scouting Report:
Another guy who is smaller than I expected. I'm guessing 6-3, tops. And he's thin. He matched up with Chris Babb the whole time I was there, and the difference in overall size between the two was very noticeable. His handle was good and he made a couple of GREAT passes. Did not see him score himself, though. It occurred to me while writing this that in two games where Babb and Marshall were matched up, I didn't see Babb doing much offensively, either.
Early Prognosis: He is clearly a skilled player but I wonder how he'll hold up physically playing on the wing. Babb, Woodyard and Edwards all appear to be much stronger. This is pure speculation, but I wonder if a redshirt might be in order here. I like the long-term potential.

Billy Oliver (redshirt), PF
Scouting Report:
He surprised me more than anyone. He looks like he is at least 6-8. And he was drilling 3-pointers. You can tell he's good from the arc because when he shoots, the guys on his team start heading the other way. He also made a really nice backdoor cut to the basket and scored off one of the aforementioned passes from Marshall. He blocked a shot, too. He is still a bit thin but looks like he can fill out. Defensively, he had his hands full trying to guard D.J. Jackson in the paint. And that will be the rub with Oliver this year. He can definitely help the Lions on offense. But can he survive against opposing power forwards on defense?
Early Prognosis: As the only big man who can score from long-range, Oliver will earn playing time. How much will likely depend on how far he progresses on defense or whether the staff can find a way to hide him on defense. I can't recall a Nittany Lion of this size who could shoot this well since Tom Hovasse.

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Fight On State Top Stories

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\r\n-30-\r\n","mobileBody":"Football season may be rapidly approaching in Happy Valley. But the Penn State gridders are not the only ones busting it to get in top shape this summer.

The Nittany Lion basketball team, fresh off the 2009 NIT title, is aiming for the NCAA Tournament this year. And five rookies — four true freshmen and a redshirt — will all be vying for playing time.

We stopped by the Jordan Center Thursday to scout the youngsters. Below, you will find our analysis and a video featuring all of the newcomers in action.

Please note that we showed up at the BJC on a random day. And at this time of year, playing pickup is hardly all the Nittany Lions are doing. They also spend a great deal of time on conditioning.

So while this gives you a glimpse into what the rookies are all about, remember that we won't be able to make any kind of full evaluation until the season actually arrives.

Sasha Boronjvak, PF
Scouting Report:
He appears to be a legit 6-8. Strong fundamentals and a great base. He looks like one of those big-framed Wisconsin players, with thick legs for someone who still has some room to fill out up top. Played exclusively in the paint when I saw him, against center Andrew Jones. Jones scored a couple of easy buckets over him. Boronjvak had a heads-up tip-in and scored on a cut to the basket.
Early Prognosis: With Jones and Andrew Ott both back at center, it is difficult to see many minutes opening up there unless injuries or fouls take their toll. My take is Boronjvak will have to outplay a couple of people at power forward to become part of the rotation this year, and I did not see enough of his overall game to know if he can do that. But he is clearly far better than the previous PSU Euro experiments.

Bill Edwards, SF
Scouting Report:
My guess is he's in the 6-3 to 6-4 range. I'd be shocked if he's 6-6, as was previously reported. I don't think he is 220, either. More in the 205-210 range. He played against Cammeron Woodyard when I was there and more than held his own. He has a nice handle for his size and a certain smoothness to his game. He ended one game by taking a pass off a screen, pump-faking, waiting for Woodyard to float by, and then calmly hitting a 17-footer. Seems to get by more on guile than pure athleticism, and I mean that in a positive way.
Early Prognosis: He'll be in that mix of players at shooting guard and small forward this year. The kind of heady player Ed DeChellis loves.

Tim Frazier, G
Scouting Report:
He is an inch or so taller than Battle but is really thin. Might have the skinniest legs I've ever seen on a major-college player. But he is really fast with the ball — just kind of glides up the floor. He went head to head with Battle the whole time I was there, and did not look slow while compared to the junior. That's an accomplishment. Frazier was a little reckless on drives to the basket, but he was not afraid to take it in among the big men. And he REALLY gets up. He jumps as well as any Penn State player I've covered. I only saw him take one three-point shot when I was there and he hit it. He had his hands full with Battle on defense, but any freshman would.
Early Prognosis: He is the backup point guard. Offensively, he is good enough to play alongside Battle in a turbocharged backcourt (think Battle and Stanley Pringle last year). I could see them giving lower-level nonconference opponents fits. But I don't think Frazier is strong enough defensively for the staff to mess with that kind of lineup against the heavy hitters on the slate.

Jermaine Marshall, SG
Scouting Report:
Another guy who is smaller than I expected. I'm guessing 6-3, tops. And he's thin. He matched up with Chris Babb the whole time I was there, and the difference in overall size between the two was very noticeable. His handle was good and he made a couple of GREAT passes. Did not see him score himself, though. It occurred to me while writing this that in two games where Babb and Marshall were matched up, I didn't see Babb doing much offensively, either.
Early Prognosis: He is clearly a skilled player but I wonder how he'll hold up physically playing on the wing. Babb, Woodyard and Edwards all appear to be much stronger. This is pure speculation, but I wonder if a redshirt might be in order here. I like the long-term potential.

Billy Oliver (redshirt), PF
Scouting Report:
He surprised me more than anyone. He looks like he is at least 6-8. And he was drilling 3-pointers. You can tell he's good from the arc because when he shoots, the guys on his team start heading the other way. He also made a really nice backdoor cut to the basket and scored off one of the aforementioned passes from Marshall. He blocked a shot, too. He is still a bit thin but looks like he can fill out. Defensively, he had his hands full trying to guard D.J. Jackson in the paint. And that will be the rub with Oliver this year. He can definitely help the Lions on offense. But can he survive against opposing power forwards on defense?
Early Prognosis: As the only big man who can score from long-range, Oliver will earn playing time. How much will likely depend on how far he progresses on defense or whether the staff can find a way to hide him on defense. I can't recall a Nittany Lion of this size who could shoot this well since Tom Hovasse.

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