Austin Lederman (@AustinLederman)
Penn State basketball is building its most impressive recruiting class in quite some time.
What was an already an impressive recruiting haul by head coach Patrick Chambers got a whole lot stronger on Tuesday night, with the announcement by Oak Hill Academy (Va.) combo guard Josh Reaves that he would be a Nittany Lion.
Reaves joins 3-star small forward Deividas Zemgulis (St. Mary Ryken, Md.) as well as 4-star Mike Watkins (Math, Civics & Sciences, Pa.) in a 2015 class that is looking more impressive by the day.
“Honestly, I feel like it’s the best fit for me,” Reaves told CoBL. “Coach [Pat] Chambers and coach Dwayne [Anderson], they’ve just been very supportive of me since day one. They’ve always been there for me through everything and I just feel like that’s the best place for me.”
This offseason, Reaves transferred from Paul VI to Oak Hill Academy (Va.), where he’ll join several other high-major recruits like fellow Big Ten commit Andrew Fleming (Iowa) at the national prep powerhouse. Reaves is listed as the 71st-best 2015 prospect by ESPN.com and the 26th-best at his position. Reaves also received offers from Villanova, Georgetown, Temple, Maryland, Wake Forest and VCU.
Despite heavy interest from some of the high-profile programs, Reaves felt most comfortable committing to Happy Valley and Nittany Nation.
“That’s the best fit for me, and I feel like I can help build a program to compete at the highest level,” Reaves said. “The academics are great, the Big Ten is great, one of the best conferences in the country, and I just want to be part of something that feels like home–and it really does.”
A 6-foot-4, 185-pound wing guard, Reaves has been a fast riser on the recruiting circuit due to his scoring ability, high motor and basketball I.Q. Capable of playing both guard spots, which he did both for his former Paul VI (Va.) high school team and Team Takeover on the AAU circuit, he’s best suited off the ball, where he’s a dangerous scorer from all three levels.
Reaves recently spent time at the Penn State Basketball Skills Camp where he got a chance to play in front of the coaching staff and get a first-hand look at the program as well as his fellow recruits, Watkins and Zemgulis.
“I played against [Watkins] at the elite camp, and he’s going to be a monster,” Reaves said. “Right now he’s pure athleticism, talent and strength, but if we just get everybody working on the little stuff, I feel like we’re going to be really good.”
Reaves and Watkins will form a nice tandem in a few years and Zemgulis will add the outside shooting that Penn State has lacked over the last few years. Chambers and Penn State still have one scholarship remaining for the 2015 class if they elect to use it.
A big part of Reaves’ commitment to Penn State involves first-year assistant coach Dwayne Anderson. Anderson, who played at Villanova from 2005-09, has spent nearly all his time since being hired by Chambers trying to get Reaves to commit to Penn State. Anderson built a relationship with Reaves early on being that both of them are from the DMV area.
“He was the one that built the best connection with me, the best relationship,” Reaves said. “I feel like I can tell him anything, I feel like he’s family and he treats me like I’m family. It means a lot knowing that he worked the hardest to get me, because of how hard that I work on the court.”
Reaves likes the direction the program is in and has taken notice of the improvements the Nittany Lions have made under Chambers. After going 12-20 in 2011-12 in Chambers’ first season as head coach, the Nittany Lions went 16-18 in the most recent season under Chambers, including a 6-12 conference record, its best since going to the tournament in the 2010-11 season.
Reaves also likes the mantra and identity the program has taken under Chambers: attitude.
“The history that they’ve had for the last couple of years, I mean, Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill have done a great job of building the program up,” Reaves said. “They worked effortlessly just knowing that they didn’t have the most talented players in the world, but knowing just their hard work gave them the wins, gave them the opportunity to beat Ohio State and compete in the Big 10 and take Nebraska to that very end of the game.
“It just shows a lot that they have heart and that they have pride to play the game of basketball. I want to be a part of that, I want to help beat those type of teams.”