Chambers Signs Four in Early Period

Geno Thorpe

The Nittany Lion basketball team already has a well-rounded group for its Class of 2013. See who is officially on board.

Coach Patrick Chambers’ first full recruiting cycle at Penn State was a productive one as the Nittany Lions announced the addition of four highly regarded players plucked from both ends of the state, the West Coast and upper Midwest during the NCAA Early Signing Period, which started Wednesday and runs through Nov. 21.  

Chambers received National Letters of Intent from 6-foot-3 guard Geno Thorpe (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler), 6-0 guard Graham Woodward (Edina, Minn./Edina), 6-6 forward Payton Banks (Orange, Calif./Lutheran) and 6-10 forward Julian Moore (Fort Washington, Pa./Germantown Academy). All were rated as three star recruits by national recruiting services. Chambers has now signed four players from the state of Pennsylvania since arriving at Penn State last June, as Thorpe and Moore join D.J. Newbill (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Donovon Jack (Reading, Pa.)

“I love this class,” Chambers said from Puerto Rico, where the Lions were preparing to take on Providence in their second game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. “I think we’ve hit on a lot of different positions and they (the class) offer a lot to Penn Staters out there. They are serious about getting their degrees. They are also winners and they love to play and will represent Penn State the way itneeds to be represented.”

The rugged 220-pound Banks is rated a three star recruit by Scout.com. He averaged 15.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.4 apg and 1.4 spg as a junior at Orange Lutheran logging 391 points last season. A first-team All-CIF Southern Section Division 1A selection and All-Orange County second team, he helped lead his team to its second straight CIF Section Division 1A championship while playing alongside Arizona signee Gabe York. A versatile combo guard, he played his junior season as the Lancer’s point guard. ESPN.com describes Banks as “a physical specimen” and “a multi-skilled forward for the next level” with good perimeter skills and an excellent passer. He played with the nationally ranked Compton Magic AAU squad in the summer. Banks chose Penn Stateover offers from USC, Colorado, Auburn, Oregon State, Arizona State, Nevada, Pepperdine and UTEP among others.  

“He is 6-6, big, thick, athletic, high IQ, can play multiple positions,” Chambers said about Banks. “He literally can play one through four. He’s got a great handle; terrific mid-range jumper; he’ll dunk on you if he has to; he will post you up. Versatility is what I would say for Payton Banks.”

The 215-pound Moore is rated athree-star recruit and the sixth-best recruit in Pennsylvania in the class of 2013 by ESPN.com. He averaged 11 points and 14 rebounds a game in his junior season as he helped Germantown Academy to a 22-10 mark. ESPN.com describes Moore as “a classic late bloomer who improved by leaps and bounds in the short time between theApril and July evaluation periods” and a player that is “just starting to grow into his body and has become more mobile and athletic as a result.” He had an impressive summer playing with the We-R1 AAU program as a strong post game emerged. Germantown coach Jim Fenerty, who has sent numerous players to thecollege level, described Moore as a post whose “skills are a little more varied and diverse,” and a player who can “pop out and do some different things.” Moore chose Penn State over offers from VCU, La Salle, Boston University, Duquesne, Bucknell and Drexel among others.

“He’s a high energy guy,” Chambers said of Moore. “He was 6-7 a year-and-a-half ago, now he is 6-10 and a quarter; jumps out of the building; shot blocker; great hands; great free throw shooter. He can really play a ball screen; rim-to-rim one of the fastest big men we’ve seen in the last two years. I’m excited about Julian’s potential.”

The 180-pound Thorpe is a consensus three-star recruit among the national recruiting services and earned Pennsylvania Class AAAA first-team selection last year after averaging 21.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 2.6 apg while leading Shaler to the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time in school history. He shot 55 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three as Shaler won its second consecutive section title and reached the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals. He was selected among the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s top five boys high school players. Thorpe played with the King James All Stars on the Nike EYBL circuit during the summer and earned an invitation to the Pangos All-American Camp in June where he finished 12th in total scoring (45 points), 15th in scoring average (11.3 ppg) and ninth in field goal percentage (77.3 percent) out of the 100 or so players invited and earned a spot in the Top 60 all-star game. Thorpe averaged 17.5 points and four assists per game as a sophomore leading the Titans to a 22-2 record. He hasscored more than 1,000 career points in two seasons at Shaler after attending Shady Side Academy as a freshman.

Thorpe chose Penn State over offers from Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, KansasState and Rutgers among others.

“He is extremely athletic,” Chambers said of Thorpe. “He’s got blood lines in the Penn State family already, which is tremendous. He runs up and down the floor; is a really great finisher. He excels in the open floor; is able to defend anybody one through three. He has a great mid-range jumper and has to continue to work on his three. We are going to play him at the point; terrific combo guard.”

The 170-pound Woodward was rated a three-star recruit after averaging 20.5 ppg last season. He totaled 533 points in leading Edina to a 17-9 record and earned All-Metro second team selection by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which described him as “money in key situations.” ESPN.com describes him as “a tough, competitive and smart point guard who knows how to run a team” and a player who “is fearless and attacks the basket with a purpose.” Tom Krosschell, the executive Director of Woodward’s Minnesota Pump N’Run AAA team, described him as gritty, tough, intelligent, an excellent shooter and a great leader who was at his best in tight games. Woodward chose Penn State over offers from Washington State, Gonzaga, Xavier and Drake among others.  

“I’m fired up about Graham Woodward,” Chambers said. “A lot of these Minnesota kids, they are tough. They’ve got this Minnesota swagger, which I love. Graham is a floor general; he’s a heady leader. He’s going to deliver the ball when you want to. He’s tough; he’s nasty; he’s fearless; it’s exactly what we need as Tim Frazier departs and we welcome Graham right in. I think it’s going to be a seamless transition.”

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