Brown, a sophomore guard on the Penn State men’s basketball team, learned at the same time as the entire university that Mikal Shrewsbury would be stepping down as head coach to take the same position at Notre Dame shortly after the team’s historic NCAA Tournament championship.
Brown didn’t take the news too seriously. Losing a college coach is tough, but he understands the logic.
“I’m not really upset,” Brown said.” Because everybody has a job. Everybody wants to do what they want to do in life, so I don’t get mad at anybody for what they do.”
Penn State players had different reactions. Some, like current NBA players Jalen Pickett, Andrew Funk and Seth Lundy, were already destined to leave. Others packed their bags and transferred. Shrewsbury made a few commitments when he arrived at Notre Dame.
Three players were retained. Now, sophomores Brown, Kanye Clary and Demetrius Lilly became the trio that stuck with the Penn State basketball team from the Shrewsbury era to the Mike Rhodes era that replaced it.
The sophomores have a bit of an interesting relationship with the rest of the team. There is only one true freshman on the roster, so these three have the least experience on a roster dominated by upperclassmen. Nonetheless, they have become temporary veterans on the big roster.
“I have some experience, so if someone needs help, I can teach them,” Lily said.
While Lilly says the experience of being a veteran is strange, he is practicing. With nine players on the roster already having at least two years of experience, the 20-year-old is trying to move forward.
Lilly’s mentality seems to be the same as the other players who have stayed on from their Shrewsbury days. The three of them watched as a team that had just reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament was down to three scholarship players. Now, it’s those three players who have helped restore the team to its March 2023 heights.
Most of Penn State’s players are brand new to the school and to each other. The players who remain at Penn State know each other, with Ace Baldwin Jr. and Nick Kern Jr. coming from Virginia Commonwealth University and DeMarco Dunn and Pugh Johnson from North Carolina. Beyond that, everyone else is a stranger.
Nonetheless, the players say they are close. For the 18 players who were thrown into a room and told to play basketball, they’ll stick around. For the players who stayed, bonding with their new teams was easy.
“I think we did a good job. For people who didn’t know each other, we did a good job,” Lilly said.” So when everyone came in, there was nothing but love.