Micah Shrewsberry needed to make a point about the Penn State men’s basketball team’s offensive potential during a recent practice, so he dug out the numbers. During his four-year career at Drexel, Camren Wynter scored 1,657 points, the sixth-most in program history. A little more than an hour away, Andrew Funk scored 1,230 points in four years at Bucknell.
Wynter and Funk, two guards, are now Nittany Lions. Shrewsberry wants to see the Penn State offense improve in his second year as coach, and Wynter and Funk will be key in making that happen. The two veterans, plus transfer forward Michael Henn (Denver), improve both the Nittany Lions’ depth and firepower.
“It’s big,” guard Jalen Pickett said Tuesday. “You’re bringing in guys like Cam Wynter, who already went to the NCAA Tournament. So he’s got a lot of knowledge there, and that’s where we want to get the program to. And somebody like Andrew Funkwho’s just been scoring nonstop his whole career, so just bringing in different players from all different backgrounds and competition is just big for us already.”
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After a 2021-22 season that featured deliberate play and low scores, Shrewsberry wants to see Penn State play at a quicker pace in 2022-23. He believes that adding Wynter and Funk to the backcourt can allow the Nittany Lions to do just that, while also combining their scoring ability with that of Pickett (more than 1,500 career points) and guard/forward Seth Lundy (773 career points).
Funk averaged 17.6 points per game at Bucknell last season, while Wynter chipped in 15.8 points per game for Drexel. Pickett led Penn State with 13.3 points per game, while Lundy ranked second at 11.9 points per game. Even if roles change and usage declines, the Nittany Lions have more players capable of taking over games and breaking out.
“Having four different guys on your team that are 1,000-point scorers at one time, you got some guys that put the ball in the bucket,” Shrewsberry said.
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Funk, Henn and Wynter also boost Penn State in the experience department after the Nittany Lions saw the departures of four fifth-year seniors, including forward John Harrar, at the end of last season. All three players are graduate transfers. Funk and Wynter are entering their fifth years of college basketball. Henn, meanwhile, is entering his seventh year and is suiting up for his fifth program.
Shrewsberry is already looking at how that experience can rub off onto a five-man freshman class. freshman guard Kanye Clary‘s locker is next to Wynter’s. Clary can see a 1,600-point scorer’s habits on a daily basis and use it as an example.
“The three transfers that we brought in, they’re men. They’re old,” Shrewsberry said. “They’ve been in college for a really long time. They’re very mature guys. They work at a really, really great level. So we have a lot of people for them to emulate and kind of watch and see how you be successful.”
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Still, Shrewsberry knows there will be a learning curve, especially for Wynter and Funk. At their previous stops, they were the go-to scorers for their teams. Funk took 15.4 shots per game, including 7.5 3-pointers per game. With Penn State, neither player will have the ball in his hands as much.
Shrewsberry compared it to when Pickett arrived from Siena last season. It took some time, but Pickett eventually adjusted. By the end of the year, he was Penn State’s most consistent player, and he enters this season as the Nittany Lions’ leader.
“We move it, a bunch of guys touch it, a bunch of guys are sharing the basketball, and I think Cam’s adjusting in that way,” Shrewsberry said. “He’s kind of thinking a little bit more than playing. So you can see that kind of period where he’s always been on the ball, now I’m asking him to do both. Be good when you have it, be good when you don’t have it. But he’s played basketball. He understands it. He’s going to be a good player for us.
“Andrew Funk’s a basketball player,” Shrewsberry continued. “This dude just knows how to play. He makes other people better. He’s not the main focus of his team right now, so he’s a little more free in terms of what he’s doing, but he picks up on what we’re trying to do and how we’re playing.”
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The addition of experience through the transfer portal could help Penn State mitigate some of the growing pains that are bound to come with a five-man freshman class. There’s more role models for the younger players to look up to, in addition to Pickett, Lundy and fifth-year senior Myles Dread.
But Wynter, Funk and Henn should help Penn State immediately on the court, too. And after a slate of low-scoring games a year ago, the Nittany Lions might be able to open up their offense, thanks to the upperclass newcomers.
“All three of those guys are ahead of the freshman, right, just because they’ve played college basketball before, they can adjust a lot quicker,” Shrewsberry said. “So they’re making good strides.”