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Penn State basketball: Mike Rhoades’ first team is starting to take shape

The 2023-24 Penn State basketball team is starting to shape up following a new portal commitment on Wednesday.



Penn State basketball team, transfer portal, Mike Rhoades
Apr 15, 2023; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions during the second quarter of the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. The Blue team defeated the White team 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Today, the Penn State basketball team landed another major transfer portal recruit. This time, the Nittany Lions hauled former top-70 four-star forward Puff Johnson, a PA native and North Carolina transfer. Following today’s new addition, Mike Rhodes’ first team is starting to take shape and find itself an identity.

Penn State basketball team: New transfer portal additions

When Micah Shrewsberry left Penn State after the 2022-23 season, most of the old Penn State basketball team was on its way out the door. For some time, the Nittany Lions were down to two scholarship players remaining due to the NBA Draft, the transfer portal, and graduation. When Mike Rhoades was hired, he knew that he was going to need to hit the portal incredibly hard to rebuild the program in his first year; so far, Rhoades has done an incredible job with the Nittany Lions in the portal.

The first transfer portal additions that Mike Rhoades grabbed were both program changers, especially A-10 Player of the Year Ace Baldwin, who followed his head coach from VCU to join the Penn State basketball team. In addition to Baldwin, Nick Kern (VCU) also followed Rhoades from Richmond to State College.

Aside from Penn State’s two VCU transfers, the Nittany Lions have also landed two other solid portal players: Puff Johnson of UNC and Zach Hicks (Temple).

The Nittany Lions’ returnees

On top of Mike Rhoades grabbing some outside talent, the Penn State basketball team still can rely on some in-house players. So far, the Nittany Lions have three returning players from last year’s team: Kanye Clary, Jameel Brown, and Demetrius Lilley. All three are solid additions to Mike Rhoades’ new-look Penn State basketball team.


The Penn State basketball team still has two of its old players in the transfer portal; both are big men from the Round of 32 squad in 2022-23. Evan Mahaffey, a former three-star from Cincinnati, OH, is still in the transfer portal searching for a new home. Additionally, former four-star center Kebba Njie is also on his way out of State College via the transfer portal. While both of these players are yet to announce a new destination, we aren’t holding our breath for either of them to return.

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