Penn State men’s basketball all-time roster: Nittany Lion Legends
College basketball is getting closer and closer to the annual NCAA tournament.
Penn State is normally a stranger to March Madness with their last appearance coming in 2011.
Under current coach Micah Shrewsberry, the Nittany Lions find themselves on the bubble with the chance of making the tournament this season.
Despite the lack of national success, there have been plenty of good players to put on the Penn State basketball jersey.
What would an all-time Penn State roster look like?
Here is the head coach and 10 players who made the all-time roster.
Elmer Gross: Head coach (1949-1954)
Jan 23, 2012; State College, PA; Exterior view of Old Main on the campus of Penn State. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
This might be a controversial choice, but no one led Penn State to higher heights as a coach than Elmer Gross.
He was the head coach for two NCAA tournament runs and the only Final Four appearance in program history in 1954. That season Penn State won the third-place game and finished top three in the country. Gross only coached for five seasons at State College finishing with an 80-40 record. He has the highest winning percentage in program history with 66.7%.
Gross also became the first person in history to both coach and play in the NCAA tournament. He played from 1940-1942 and was the captain of the team in 1942 when they made the tournament for the first time in school history.
Dan Earl: Assistant coach (2006-2011)
Dec 21, 2019; Blacksburg, Virginia; Virginia Military Institute Keydets head coach Dan Earl looks on during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Cassell Coliseum. Michael Thomas Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
[autotag]Dan Earl[/autotag] is a Penn Stater through and through. He was a great player for the Nittany Lions from 1993-1999, currently sitting third on the all-time assists list.
After a three-year professional playing career, Earl decided to return to Penn State as an assistant coach in 2006. He was on the staff in 2011 which was the last time the Nittany Lions were in the NCAA Tournament.
Earl left after the 2011 season to take an associate head coaching role at Navy. In 2015, he got his first shot as head coach, taking over the VMI program. He currently serves as the head coach of Chattanooga in the Southern Conference after taking the job in 2022.
Keith Urgo: Assistant coach (2012-2021)
Jan 6, 2019; University Park, PA; Penn State Nittany Lions associate head coach Keith Urgo reacts to a call against the Wisconsin Badgers during the second half at the Bryce Jordan Center. Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
[autotag]Keith Urgo[/autotag] was a longtime assistant at Penn State. He was brought over from Villanova by former head coach [autotag]Pat Chambers[/autotag]. He was a part of the staff that won the 2018 NIT tournament. Urgo was also instrumental in the development of some of the best players in program history.
After Chambers stepped down in 2020, Urgo stayed on the staff for the remainder of the year but eventually left to be the associate head coach at Fordham in 2021.
He took over the Fordham head coaching job in 2022 and has led the Rams to an excellent 22-6 record so far this season.
Talor Battle: Starting Guard (2007-2011)
Feb 24, 2009; Columbus, OH; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Talor Battle (12) drives against Ohio State Buckeyes guard P.J. Hill (4) at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes beat the Nittany Lions 73-59. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
[autotag]Talor Battle[/autotag] is the best guard in Penn State history. He is the all-time leading scorer with 2213 points and played the most minutes in a Penn State jersey with 4,799.
He played in 134 games while averaging 16.5 points per game and 3.9 assists per game and shot 34.1% from three-point range. Battle was first-team All-Big Ten his sophomore season and second-team All-Big Ten his junior season.
He led his team into the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the last time Penn State was in the field.
D.J. Newbill: Starting Guard (2012-2015)
Mar 12, 2015; Chicago, IL; Penn State Nittany Lions guard D.J. Newbill (2) reacts after scoring against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the second half in the second round of the Big Ten Conference Tournament at United Center. Penn State won 67-58. Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Following the career of a legendary player like Talor Battle is never easy, but [autotag]D.J. Newbill[/autotag] fully thrived in that role.
After transferring in from Southern Miss, Newbill made his impact on Penn State early. In his first season, he led the team in points (16.3) and assists (4.0).
Newbill is second in program history with 18.3 points per game and is fifth with 1,812 total points. He was also named second team All-Big Ten twice during his career.
Jesse Arnelle: Starting Forward (1951-1955)
The Penn State community mourns the loss of an icon in Jesse Arnelle, Class of 1955.
Jesse was a trailblazer, serving as the first Black student body president during a storied career as a standout student-athlete in football & basketball.
📰: https://t.co/fHV2d3k2AW#WeAre pic.twitter.com/wIORkeqoBd
— Penn State Athletics (@GoPSUsports) October 26, 2020
[autotag]Jesse Arnelle[/autotag] is the best Penn State basketball player ever. He’s the only player to be selected as an All-American in program history and led his team to the Final Four in 1954.
At the time of his graduation, he was the program’s all-time leading scorer (2,138) and rebounder (1,238). He still has the most rebounds and now ranks third on the all-time scoring list.
His current records include points per game (21.0), rebounds per game (12.1) and free throws made (662).
Arnelle accumulated these numbers in 102 games due to a shorter schedule. The numbers he could have put up with the current schedule would have been monstrous.
Lamar Stevens: Starting Forward (2016-2020)
Jan 4, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Penn State Nittany Lions forward Lamar Stevens (11) reacts after scoring against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first half at The Palestra. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
[autotag]Lamar Stevens'[/autotag] career at Penn State ended in a way nobody wanted. Prior to the Big Ten tournament, everything was cancelled due to Covid 19 safety precautions.
There was a big chance that Stevens would have led his team to Penn State’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011. Unfortunately, nobody will know the answer to that hypothetical.
Stevens finished his career second on the all-time scoring list with 2,207 points, six back of the record. He certainly would have become number one during the Big Ten tournament.
He does hold the record for most made field goals (801) and was first team All-Big Ten twice in 2019 and 2020.
Stevens currently plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA where he’s averaging 5.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game coming off the bench.
Calvin Booth: Starting Forward (1995-1999)
14 Mar 1996: Center Darnell Robinson of the Arkansas Razorbacks shoots the ball over center Calvin Booth of the Penn State Nittany Lions during a playoff game at the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island. USA TODAY Sports
Every team needs a good defender. That’s exactly what [autotag]Calvin Booth[/autotag] provided during his time at Penn State.
He finished his career with a record-setting 428 total blocks and 3.8 per game. Upon graduation, 428 blocks were the all-time Big Ten record. During his junior season, he was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Booth was absolutely dominant on the defensive end of the floor. This got him drafted in the second round of the 1999 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards.
He currently is the General Manager of the NBA team Denver Nuggets.
Jalen Pickett: Reserve Guard (2021-2023)
Feb 23, 2023; Columbus, Ohio; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Jalen Pickett (22) dribbles past Ohio State Buckeyes guard Isaac Likekele (13) during the first half at Value City Arena. Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
This selection might raise some eyebrows since Jalen Pickett will only have been a Nittany Lion for two seasons. However, his senior year has been something special.
Truly a do it all player, [autotag]Jalen Pickett[/autotag] is leading the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. When he graduates, he’ll be the program’s leader in assists per game.
Pickett set the Bryce Jordan Center record on February 14th, 2023 with 41 points. He was selected as National Player of the Week during a historic stretch this season where he scored 73 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds in two games.
He’ll certainly receive All-Big Ten honors at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. If he’s able to get Penn State into the NCAA Tournament, that will push him to a program legend.
Joe Crispin: Reserve Guard (1997-2001)
#OTD | Jan. 23, 1999 | Soph G Joe Crispin exploded for a career-high 3️⃣0️⃣ points (8-14 FG, 10-10 FT) in a 65-61 win at Illinois. He had 6️⃣ 30-pt games, 3rd on Nittany Lions' list behind Jesse Arnelle (15) & Talor Battle (7). pic.twitter.com/NI8g414tQL
— Penn State Men’s Basketball (@PennStateMBB) January 23, 2021
There is always a home for great shooters on any roster. [autotag]Joe Crispin[/autotag] was a great shooter and scorer. He ranks fourth on the all-time scoring list with 1,986 points, the fourth most three-pointers (308) and is third all-time in three-point shooting percentage (34.8%).
Crispin holds the record for the best free throw percentage in program history with 88.5%. He was also a two-time All-Big Ten selection, including first-team his senior year.
In 2001, Crispin played a huge role in one of Penn State basketball’s most iconic moments. He scored 21 points in the upset of two-seeded North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Tim Frazier: Reserve Guard (2009-2014)
Mar 2, 2014; University Park, PA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Tim Frazier (23) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Bryce Jordan Center. The Badgers won 71-66. Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports
[autotag]Tim Frazier[/autotag] might be one of the most underrated players in program history. He was on both the Talor Battle and D.J. Newbill era teams. But he was more than along for the ride, he was an impact player.
Frazier is the all-time assist leader for Penn State with 641. He also is tenth on the all-time scoring list with 1,543 points and fourth with 196 steals. He was an All-Big Ten selection twice, including a first-team honor in 2012.
While he’ll never be considered a top player in program history, there is no doubt Frazier deserves a spot on the all-time Penn State roster. After he graduated, he played in the NBA for eight years with nine different teams.
John Amaechi: Reserve Forward (1992-1995)
Wisconsin sophomore center Rashard Griffith takes the ball to the hole against Penn State’s John Amaechi in 1995. USA TODAY Sports
After transferring to Penn State from Vanderbilt, [autotag]John Amaechi[/autotag] had more than a solid career. The British-born player was the original program’s shot-blocking specialist. He currently ranks third on the all-time list with 191 but held the record when he graduated. His 2.8 blocks per game are still second in program history.
Amaechi finished his career with three All-Big Ten honors, including a first-team his senior season. He led Penn State to a third-place finish in the NIT in 1995.
After he graduated, Amaechi spent six years in the NBA playing with three different franchises.
Mike Watkins: Reserve Forward (2016-2020)
Jan 4, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Penn State Nittany Lions forward Mike Watkins (24) dunks the ball against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the second half at The Palestra. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
This might be an interesting addition to some, but there is no doubt [autotag]Mike Watkins[/autotag] is a rebounding defensive specialist. He is not on the floor for his offense, but with this roster full of scorers, shooters and creators, he can focus on what he does best.
Watkins has the second most rebounds (953) and blocks (265) in program history. He also has the best field goal percentage with 59.7%. His defensive prowess was recognized with a Big Ten All-Defensive Team honor in 2018.
Players doing the dirty work is needed for a successful team. That was evident when Watkins played a big role in the NIT Championship run Penn State had in 2018.