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Previewing Penn State Basketball in the Baha Mar Hoops Summer League

Previewing the Penn State basketball team’s first game action of the summer this week.



Penn State basketball, Bahamas
Mar 16, 2023; Des Moines, IA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Kanye Clary (0) dribbles the ball against the Texas A&M Aggies during the first half at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State Basketball is down in the Bahamas this week for a couple of exhibition games that will be our first look at this new squad under Mike Rhoades. The Nittany Lions take on the Bahamas Men’s national team at 7 PM EST on Tuesday, August 8th, and the University of Victoria at 4:30 PM EST on Thursday, August 10th. This will mark the first trip abroad for the basketball team since 2017 when they also traveled to the Bahamas.

Previewing Penn State Basketball in the Baha Mar Hoops Summer League

The competition is a lot different than what the Nittany Lions will face in the college season, but this is a great opportunity to see where this new group stands after the summer workout period. With a new coaching staff and 10 new players joining the roster there are a ton of questions going into next season. What will the rotation look like? Who will join Ace in the backcourt? Who is gonna be the backup center? While we still have a long way to go before the season starts, these games will give the fans an idea of where the staff is leaning at this early stage of the preseason in terms of player personnel.

With this early look, we will get to see who currently is winning many position battles for starting and rotation spots. As mentioned above, the most interesting competitions, in my opinion, are at the starting shooting guard spot and backup center.

An early look at position battles for the 2023 season

At shooting guard, there are many contenders. The most likely candidates are RayQuawndis Mitchell and D’Marco Dunn. Guys like Kanye Clary, for his scoring and playmaking prowess, or Jameel Brown, for his deadeye shooting, could also be in the mix but for now, Mitchell and Dunn seem to be the front runners. Mitchell comes to Penn State with just one year of eligibility left after spending last year at Kansas City University where he averaged an impressive 17 points a game, but on a poor shooting of just 35% from the field and 31% from deep. Dunn arrived in Happy Valley as a former top 100 recruit who went to play for his home state North Carolina, but could never establish a consistent role thanks to a talented and veteran backcourt ahead of him. Both players project as solid shooters from deep and capable defenders. I believe the final choice will come down to who the staff can most help take some of the scoring pressure off of Ace Baldwin

The backup center doesn’t seem like it should be a huge deal, but it is a crucial spot for the Nittany Lions. The biggest reason is the starter, Qudus Wahab. Wahab is a seasoned and capable center, but throughout his career, he has dealt with a fouling problem that can often affect the number of minutes he can play. Throughout his career, he routinely plays the fewest minutes of any of the starters on his team, so the backup big becomes very important to fill the void when he sits. The main, and only, candidates for this job are Demetrius Lilley and Favour Aire. Lilley returns to Penn State after a disappointing freshman season that saw him play just 14 minutes all season. He is in the best shape of his life according to coach Rhoades and seems motivated to claim the spot. Aire comes to Penn State after not being able to crack the Miami rotation in his freshman year. He has all the physical gifts you would want in a center. He is fast, athletic, tall, and long, but he just lacks some of the skills you want to see for a player to really thrive. 

These two tropical matchups in the Bahamas will give us an early preview of these questions and more as the Nittany Lions look to build on their summer practices. You can watch the games at with a subscription. 

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