Penn State starts fresh against Drexel after scandal
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers resigned under pressure on Oct. 21 after an internal investigation of what was deemed inappropriate conduct, but it does not appear that his former players are on board with the decision.
Under interim coach Jim Ferry, the Nittany Lions will try to keep their focus only on the court Wednesday when they host Drexel in the season opener for both teams.
Several players, including senior Jamari Wheeler, spoke last week in defense of Chambers, who had been under fire the past two years after racist allegations by former guard Rasir Bolton.
"For me, I've been here four years, a Black athlete that plays for him that's all the way from Florida," Wheeler said. "I didn't get questioned not one time, 'Was coach racist?' or anything like that."
Penn State went 21-10 last season, landed in the Top 10 for the first time since 1995-96 thanks to four Top-25 wins and was a lock for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011 before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ferry, who has head-coaching experience with Duquesne (2012-17) and Long Island (2002-12), will have to overcome the departure of Lamar Stevens, the school's No. 2 all-time scorer (2,207 points) and a two-time All-Big Ten selection.
Penn State will rely on a talented backcourt led by Myreon Jones (13.3 points per game last season), who was second in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting (40.3); Myles Dread (132 3-pointers last two years) and Wheeler (Big Ten-best 48 steals last year). The Lions will also get a boost from Binghamton transfer Sam Sessoms, who led the America East in scoring last year (19.4).
Drexel hasn't had a winning season since 2011-12, but was picked to finish third in the Colonial Athletic Association this season. The Dragons were the only team to place two players on the CAA Preseason First Team: juniors Camren Wynter and James Butler.
Wynter averaged 15.7 points last year and was second in the CAA in assists per game (5.1) while Butler averaged 13.2 points and finished fifth in the nation with 11.7 rebounds and 20 double-doubles.
"This could be the best group, top to bottom, that we've had here," fifth-year coach Zach Spiker said. "We've had some shared experiences. We hope that we can refer back to those and go through things together and be better."
Penn State is 6-0 all-time against Drexel with the most recent wins in 2014 and 2015.
--Field Level Media