Chambers’ First Recruiting Battle

If you paid any attention to Pat Chamber’s opening press conference and interviews, he has consistently reiterated the need for Penn State to improve its recruiting efforts and attract big time players to Penn State. I don’t think anyone’s disagreeing. If PSU ever wants to be a consistent presence in the top half of the Big Ten, they need to start bringing in prime-time ball players year after year.

Chambers’ history with the basketball scene in Philadelphia has been well-documented since news broke he would become the next head coach.  Philly has been a hotbed of basketball talent that Penn State hasn’t been able to infiltrate, consistently losing out to the Big East, ACC, and Big Five for these highly-sought recruits. Many have already speculated that Chambers’ success here will directly be influenced by his ability to pull players out of Philadelphia.

After doing some brief research on Chamber’s lone stint as a head coach at Boston University, his Philadelphia connections are no joke. He inherited a very experienced team comprised of 9 listed seniors for the 2009-2010 season. This was basically the opposite situation that he’s inherited here, since he had many scholarships opening up for his first full recruiting class (2010). What Pat did with those scholarships was pretty remarkable. As you might’ve heard, Pat’s team last year had 10 new players: 7 freshmen and 3 transfers. Most, if not all of these players were committed prior to the start of Pat’s first season, or less than 7 months after he was hired. Of those 10 new players, 7 had a Philadelphia connection:

Matt GriffinTransfer - RiderFrom Narberth, attended St. Joseph's Prep HS
Darryl PartinTransfer - La SallePlayed College Ball in Philadelphia
Mike Terry, Jr.FreshmanFrom Philadelphia, attended Northeast Catholic HS
D.J. IrvingFreshmanFrom Chester, attended Archbishop Carroll HS
Travis RobinsonFreshmanFrom Philadelphia, attended Friends Central School
Dom MorrisFreshmanFrom Philadelphia, attended Friends Central School
Henry GaskinsFreshmanFrom Philadelphia, attended Friends Central School

Almost all of them were big contributors to BU’s America East championship this past season. Henry Gaskins only logged 2 minutes all year and is not on next year’s roster, but the rest of the Philadelphians were in the regular rotation. Irving, Morris, and Partin started all season long, while Terry, Robinson, and Griffin appeared in at least 28 games. Pretty impressive recruiting haul by Chambers to turn these guys into champions (although it doesn’t hurt when you inherit someone as good as John Holland).

But as mentioned earlier, Chambers does not have plentiful scholarships at his disposable. The only casualty so far from the regime change was Dayton transfer Juwan Staten, who is moving on to West Virginia. The current and incoming players have all expressed the desire to remain on board with the program. Whether they’ll last their full eligibility remains to be seen, but for the time being, here’s what Chambers is working with:

  • 2 scholarships for the 2012 class
  • 1 scholarship for the 2013 class
  • 5 scholarships for the 2014 class

A look into PA’s class of 2012 yields mixed results. The class is very strong, but Villanova already has a stranglehold on the situation. They’ve received commitments from Philadelphia-area players Dan Ochefu, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Savon Goodman, giving them the #2 recruiting class so far. DeChellis went after all of these guys to no avail, even though Goodman visited campus multiple times and Arcidiacono’s whole family went/goes to Penn State (except for his Villanova grad father). However, there’s still one gem in the City of Brotherly Love that is still uncommitted.

Meet Amile Jefferson.

If you follow basketball recruiting, you know him already. Amile has been on the radar for his elite skills for quite some time. ESPN has him at #26, Rivals at #34, and Scout at #21 overall for the class of 2012. There’s a solid chance he’ll be a McDonald’s All-American.

If you watch the video, you get a sense that Amile is a well-spoken, humble kid. The previous regime tried recruiting him hard, so he no doubt fits the ‘Penn State mold’. It’s certainly intriguing to hear him hint at an interest in business. With Chambers’ marketing degree and sales background along with SMEAL, PSU could seemingly have an edge in academics. But what’s most exciting about Jefferson is that he’s still ‘wide-open’ in the recruiting process, so it’s not like Chambers is already facing an uphill battle with his recruitment. The 6’8″, 195 lb PF/SF prospect has listed Villanova, Pitt, Syracuse, Wake Forest, NC State, Maryland, Georgetown, Ohio State, among many others, but insists he has yet to make a list.


This is where Chambers’ Philly connections will play a factor. Amile Jefferson plays high school ball at Friends’ Central and hits the AAU circuit with Team Philly. Chambers already snagged 3 of Jefferson’s former teammates at Friends’ Central in his first class at BU. He also had a hand in Maalik Wayns’ recruitment to Villanova and brought Matt Griffin to BU, both former Team Philly AAU players.  Chambers knows Jefferson and Jefferson likely knows Chambers, or at least many people that will vouch for him. When Pat’s been talking about hitting Philly hard, Amile Jefferson presumably is his target.

I don’t think one kid’s recruitment will determine Pat’s success as a recruiter in Philadelphia, but if he wants to make a statement early, Jefferson is his man. I expect Penn State to become a serious player in his recruitment in the coming summer months.

  • Dave

    ryan arcidiacono was my teammate for the past 3 seasons! The kids a special player, and I am going to penn state myself but I must say, Dechellis missed out on an outstanding kid.

    • Mike

      The cupboard isn’t totally bare for Chambers. But it’s got enough room for Chambers to really make this program in his own cast very early on. DeChellis did what he could, but it seemed that the NCAA tourney was his last hurrah. Not saying it should have been his final season, but nothing looked positive for this upcomming season. Chambers’s first class could be only so-so–I don’t think it will be–but that’s not terrible. His second recruiting class should be very solid, just because he will have had a full season of selling his program and hitting the recruiting trail hard, especially–obviously–Philly.

  • CMD

    CORRECTION: Ryan Arcidiacono’s MOM & DAD are Villanova Alumni. His Dad was Captain of the Villanova football team playing DE opposite Howie Long. The kid lives in the same area of Bucks County that Jay Wright grew up in and Ryan has repeatedly said that he watched Villanova basketball his whole life. (Jay’s brother coaches in neighboring Council Rock North HS and Ryan’s AAU team is stacked with CRN players.)

    The only member of Ryan’s family that went to PSU was his sister who played basketball and one of his cousins who played football.

    Good Luck to Chambers but he has a HUGE credibility gap to fill in and his small reputation doesn’t come close to filling it.

    Amile Jefferson won’t even waste his time returning Chambers’ phone calls unless he can nab some free football tickets which is what all the PA basketball stars do before they commit elsewhere. Villanova doesn’t even have a scholarship left for 2012 and they are far closer to getting Jefferson than Chambers will ever be. His own friends, Goodman & Arcidiacono are on top of the kid to go to Nova every week of the summer.

    The previous no-names that Chambers got from Friends Central didn’t have a chance in hel1 of playing Big East basketball so they crawled to BU.

    Chambers isn’t in any recruiting battles, he is only around to pick up talented scraps that Big East or ACC teams or even Temple do not want or can not fit in their programs.

    A philly kid that Chambers may have better luck with is Jaylen Bond who reclassified to 2012 and is mad at the PITT coaches for not being honest with him about who else they were bringing in for the 2011 class. Bond has reopened his recruitment and taking a 6th year at a New England Prep School. He also should be looking at 6’6 Jeremiah Worthen for 2013 who plays at one of the Philly Charter schools.

    There is an overaged rising sophomore from Allentown Central Catholic named Muhamhed Ali Abdur-Rakman (2014) who was a 6’3 guard that was named 2nd team AAA All State and was 3rd team MaxPreps freshman All-American. He turns 17 in September for his sophomore year.
    That’s the kind of player Penn State can go after and please stop this nonsense that PSU can battle a Villanova or even a Temple for a player they want.

  • CMD

    should read 5th year for J.Bond