Penn State nabs most coveted recruit of Patrick Chambers' tenure

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Penn State nabs most coveted recruit of Patrick Chambers' tenure
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When Penn State officials hired coach Patrick Chambers from Boston University in June 2011, their hope was that he'd accomplish something few of his predecessors had managed to do.

They wanted Chambers to get top Philadelphia basketball prospects consider the Nittany Lions, a challenge he was uniquely qualified to tackle given the strong relationships he'd built with the city's high school and club coaches during his five years as a Villanova assistant.

The surest sign that Chambers is making progress arrived Monday afternoon when he secured the most significant recruit of his Penn State tenure. Chambers received a verbal commitment from point guard Tony Carr, the city of Philadelphia's top prospect in the class of 2016 and Rivals.com's No. 53 prospect nationally.

Outdueling the likes of Maryland, Georgetown, Illinois and Indiana for a borderline top 50 prospect is cause for celebration for a program as historically downtrodden as Penn State. Carr is the highest ranked player to choose the Nittany Lions since Rivals.com began ranking and evaluating high school prospects 13 years ago.

The 6-foot-4 Carr has the size and strength to defend multiple positions on the perimeter yet also boasts the court vision and ability to attack the rim necessary to become an elite point guard. Just as importantly, his early commitment makes a statement that Penn State should be considered a viable option for other top Philadelphia prospects in the classes of 2016 and 2017.

Chambers already has commitments from Rivals 150 forward Joe Hampton and three-star guard Nazeer Bostick, a high school and AAU teammate of Carr. Now he'll surely turn his full attention to another of Carr's AAU teammates, small forward Lamar Stevens, another Philadelphia kid and Rivals.com's No. 96 prospect.

Establishing a pipeline to Philadelphia has been hard for previous Penn State coaches for many reasons.

The Nittany Lions have only been to the NCAA tournament four times since 1965 and lack either the hoops pedigree or the budget of in-state foes Pittsburgh, Temple and Villanova. The Big Ten also historically hasn't resonated as much with Philadelphia kids who grew up watching Big East basketball.

Chambers inherited a threadbare roster and has posted only a 16-56 Big Ten record in his first four seasons at Penn State, but his recent recruiting has offered a glimmer of hope. In addition his 2016 haul, Chambers also lured a strong 2015 class that included shooting guard Josh Reaves, Rivals.com's No. 143 prospect, and power forward Mike Watkins, Rivals.com's No. 126 prospect and another Philadelphia native.

How excited is Chambers about the commitment of Carr? He can't comment until Carr signs a letter of intent in November, but his Twitter account offered a strong hint.

Indeed it is. There haven't been many great days to be a Penn State basketball fan, but Monday was definitely one of them.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!