The Penn State Wilkes-Barre Men's Basketball team is ready to kick off their 2019-2020 campaign tonight at home against Luzerne County Community College.
The USCAA Defending National Champion Mountain Lions enter the year with a lot of excitement and buzz around the program and area. The program returns a solid core of its 2019 National Champion team players and USCAA National Head Coach of the year, Leshawn Hammett.
Coach Hammett brought in a talented and deep recruiting class from across the country to go along with the solid group he returns from last year. Once again The Mountain Lions roster feature student-athletes from Chicago, Arkansas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, California, Georgia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Khalil White, Senior Guard : Last season Khalil was a 2nd team USCAA All-American, A 1st team PSUAC All-Conference player and led the team in scoring averaging 14.4 ppg.
What Coach Says: Khalil played a huge role in our National Championship run. We relied on him last year for his scoring spark of the bench. This season he will start for us and we expect him to do what he did last year and more. I've also challenged Khalil this year to become a 2 way player. The expectations is not only this year to be an All-American guard this season again but also one of the best wing defenders in the country. We will again rely on his scoring and leadership this season.
Kevin Silverberg , Senior Guard: Last season Kevin averaged 10 points per game and shot 40% from three point land hitting 56 three pointers for the season. In his 2 seasons 2019 PSUAC 2nd team All-Conference player has made 123 three pointers.
What Coach says: Kevin is a big time shooter, he hit a lot of big shots for us last year. He can really fill it up, he is much more than just a three point shooter. We once again expect Kevin to be someone we can lean on. Kevin and Khalil White have created some great chemistry towards the end of the season so I expect them to be a very dangerous duo this season. I expect this season to be Kevin's best season.
Coach Hammett Also Is Going To Rely More On 3 seniors who transferred in last season who were solid contributors in their title run. Senior Guards Jayden Hampton, Dominique Stevenson And John Armstead.
What Coach Says: I expect Jayden Hampton to finish where he left off from last season. He played very well for us down the stretch at the end of the year and with Jheron Dawson-Johnson gone we need him to be ready to lead us and be a big time player.
Dominique Stevenson role this season is a lot bigger then last year. Dominique is a big time scorer and has had 2 seasons prior to coming to us where he averaged 14 points a game. His best game of the season was in the National Championship game scoring 13 points. So this season we expect him to continue to be a lockdown defender for us but also score the ball at a high level once again.
John Armstead is another player who can really score the ball. He averaged 17 points per game in junior college and with Ameer Biddle gone and Khalil White going into the starting lineup were expecting him to take over the scoring responsibilities that Ameer gave our team and spark Khalil gave us off the bench.
Kevin Major, 6'3 Junior Guard: Kevin is a transfer from Genesee Community Colleg. He Averaged 10 points per game and 2nd team All-region player last season for Genesee.
What Coach Says: Kevin is someone Who can fill up a stat sheet fast. He has been known for scoring and in high school averaged 23 points per game and scored over 1,000 points. I understand it was 2 seasons ago in high school but a true scorer doesn't forget how to score. He scores in bunches but also can play both guard positions. We are thrilled to have him in our program. The hope is he will be a big time incoming Player for us this season.
Marin Bandalo 6'7 Junior Forward: Marin comes to the Penn State Wilkes-Barre from Harper College. Marin averaged 13 points per game, while hitting 66 threes A season ago.
What Coach Says: Marin is a high level knockdown shooter. He has great size and Can play both Guard and forward positions. His ability to shoot is only one of his best qualities. We believe he will bring an add scoring punch and depth we're looking for to spark us off the bench.
Clifton Tracey 6'8 Junior Guard: Clifton comes to Penn State Wilkes-Barre from Monroe College. Where he averaged 9 points per game and won two regional championships. Clifton not only brings championship experience he has also played in two NJCAA National Tournaments.
What Coach Says: Clifton will bring some added scoring power to the wing and a team who already is loaded with scoring. Clifton is very crafty and will see time at both wing positions and stretch 4 position. He shooting the ball well and is a solid rebounding guard. After watching him these past 2 years in college at Monroe and now being in our program He looks a lot better now then before. I believe he's hands down the most versatile player in our league maybe even the country. At 6'8 as a wing he's going to be a matchup nightmare this season.
Ray Pender, 6'6 Senior Forward: Ray Comes to us from Dominican College. He is reunited with current PSWB guard Kevin Silverberg who also transferred from Dominican College 2 years ago. He also owns Two New York City High School Championship and one New York State championship.
What Coach Says: Ray is a big and physical player. He is very skilled in the post and is a tenacious rebounder. He comes in with a lot of championship and playing experience. Transferring from a Division two program we expect him to acclimate easy and contribute big for us. He has the ability to be a double double All-Conference player this season.
Dorian Haynes, 6'4 Freshman Guard: Dorian the lone freshman on the roster Comes to us from New York City PSAL Powerhouse Boys & Girls HS. In his senior season he averaged 11 points and lead his team in steals at 3.5 per game.
What Coach Says: Dorian is a solid defensive player who can really shoot the three ball. He has really took the time to work hard on his skills since arriving here. He's another player we expect to make an impact although he's a freshman. He comes from a well known high school and played for a well respected AAU Coach in New York Coach Dillard. I believe his training and experience will allow him to contribute as a freshman.
What Coach Says: Jordan is a high motor player and can impact a game with scoring. He is very athletic and his ability to finish around the rim and 15-17 feet away allows him to be someone we can step away from the rim to score the ball for us as a post player.
Penn State Wilkes-Barre Also Add Some Other Big Time Recruits this summer:
- Solomon Hall Junior 6'8 Forward: Andrew College Transfer Averaged 5.8 Rebounds per game last year
- Calvin Johnson Junior 6'5 Guard: Napa Valley CC Transfer Averaged 5 Points Last Season
- Chinonso Emeruem 6'10 Center From Chicago, Illinois
What are expectations this season?
Coach Hammett said, "My expectations are high. We have every piece needed to win a PSUAC Championship & repeat as National Champions. There is a huge excitement around our program and campus after winning our first National Championship last year. We are looking to build off that. Once you've experience the highest honor in college basketball you don't want to settle for anything less.
Every year our program has taken a step forward in the 4 years I have been here so I expect the same and then some this season. We have a amazing and extremely talented team. The players have bought into our philosophy of playing for each other and to leave their mark on the program. We've set goals for our players and they are working hard to achieve them. We have depth and a lot of experience with 8 seniors and 6 juniors so everything we do is to prepare us for March and we'll be ready for it".
Thoughts on your team's preseason?
"I think it went really well. We had some injuries but we're turning the corner to be prepared for everyone's best shot. The guys are in great shape our returning players did a great job setting the tone this offseason on how hard you have to work and what it takes to prepare for what this team will endure this season. We pushed each other and the players got better everyday and really worked hard. We came out of it healthy which is huge, we were banged up a little at the end. We all are ready and excited for our season opener.
Thoughts on your Team
I think we have a very talented roster. We have size, we have talent, we have experience and we have depth. I think we have the full package of what's needed to win our conference and repeat as National Champions. I think we have the a top level player in the country at every position if not the best player in the country at certain positions. We have 17 student athletes that are ready to repeat. We really have 2 starting fives who could easily start for us. Practice has been very competitive every day and we really pushed the guys to challenge each other to simulate what games will feel like. Our preseason was long but we got a lot accomplished we're mentally and physically ready to have another historic season. My excitement grows and grows as the days go by. This should be a fun season.