May 14, 2010

Finally, a New Recruit...In Basketball, PSYCHE.

We're still patiently waiting on that first football recruit for 2011. In the meantime though, the Fighting DeChellises have managed to land their third recruit for 2010 in 6'8" power forward Jonathan Graham. Even though I'm not one to pin my hopes too high on freshmen, given PSU's lack of a post presence on the roster, this was a much-needed grab by the coaching staff. Although there appears to be confusion over who exactly was recruiting Graham, Seton Hall was the main challenger to PSU for Graham's services. Perhaps Seton Hall would've landed him if Bobby Gonzalez hadn't been fired, though that's just mere speculation.

Anyway, here's a little tidbit on his senior season courtesy of the Baltimore Sun:

A two-time All-Metro selection, Graham averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds this season, leading Calvert Hall to the Baltimore Catholic League championship. Graham, a four-year varsity player and three-year starter, finished his Calvert Hall career as the program’s second-leading scorer with 1,670 points.
Alright: Scorer, rebounder, helped lead his team to a championship. It only gets better though, as the recruiting story begins to read more like a "How It All Began" description on some couple's wedding page:
(Head Coach John) Bauersfeld said Penn State first started recruiting Graham during his junior season, and continued to express interest early last fall. The communication waned over the winter, but a Penn State coach touched base with Bauersfeld “about a month ago” to see if Graham was still available. Both parties remained interested, and the recruitment took off from there.
How romantic. This is followed of course, with the typical fluff that coaches use to describe how great their freshly-committed players are:
“They love his upside,” Bauersfeld said. “They love the fact that he’s very long. They love his skills for a big guy. They really liked his work ethic and personality-wise, he’s a great kid and solid student. All those aspects they were really impressed with. I think that made Jon really attractive to them.”
Such praise is then immediately followed by words of caution, because the last thing coaches want are fans drinking the "OMG new recruit, UPSIDE!" Kool-Aid, expecting a true freshman to step in right away and fill the void in the low post.
“I think he’d be asked, as a younger player, not to do too much too soon,” Bauersfeld said. “I think they’re going to be really patient for him and let him develop his strength and those aspects. I think their style of play definitely fits with Jon’s game. ... He’s definitely gotten a lot better, became an excellent teammate and became a great leader for the younger guys. It’s been really fun to watch him grow up in front of us.”

Unfortunately for DeChellis and staff, they probably don't have too much time to let him develop. Sure, Graham won't be expected to be an immediate contributor but at some point next season, he needs to be a guy who can provide quality minutes on the floor and become that post player opposing teams need to worry about. PSU hasn't had such a player since Jamelle Cornley graduated, and it was painfully evident last season when all teams had to do was focus on shutting down Talor Battle and all was well for them...

Time will tell how Graham pans out his freshman year but it's hard to see any negatives from this latest haul, given how dire things have become again in Happy Valley. The Goo Punch is flowing again, boys and girls...Drink up!

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