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Penn State makes big addition to basketball roster, lands nation's No. 8 sit-out transfer

JON SAUBER
Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Sam Sessoms
  • Penn State has made a big addition to its men's basketball roster.
  • The Lions have landed sophomore transfer guard Sam Sessoms.
  • Sessoms averaged 19.4 points per game last season for Binghamton.

Penn State basketball has moved onto the offseason and made a big addition to its roster.

Sophomore guard Sam Sessoms committed to the Nittany Lions Monday afternoon, he told the Centre Daily Times, and plans to be eligible in 2021-22 after he sits out a year in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

The six-foot true sophomore spent the first two seasons of his college basketball career at Binghamton University and is the No. 8 sit-out transfer in the country, according to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello. He decided on Penn State because the program showed promise this season on the court and the school can help him off the court.

“Penn State basketball is on the uprise,” Sessoms told the CDT. “But most importantly, when it came time for me to decide, it was ultimately because getting a degree from Penn State is tremendous. The basketball is going to stop bouncing one day, so I was thinking about it from that aspect. I was thinking about after basketball.”

Binghamton's Sam Sessoms (3) drives to the basket vs. Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 79-53. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Philly pipeline: Sessoms has plenty of familiarity with the Penn State roster. The guard hails from Philadelphia, like several other players on Penn State’s 2020-21 roster, and saw that as a benefit in his recruitment. That familiarity was especially helpful because he couldn’t see any schools once he decided to transfer.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic made it impossible for Sessoms to visit schools while he was in the transfer portal and forced schools to get creative in their pursuit of him. Penn State head coach Pat Chambers and his staff did a better job than any other school, according to Sessoms, putting themselves over the edge with their consistent contact and video calls on the Zoom remote conferencing application.

“We had a virtual in-house visit through the Zoom app,” he said. “I think the thing that got me was when I went on a video call and the whole coaching staff was on there. It was definitely tough, but Penn State made it super easy. They made it feel like I was with those guys throughout the entire process.”

Filling a need: Sessoms fills one of the potential needs, as a multi-level scorer, Chambers cited when he spoke to the media via teleconference on March 20.

“You’re always looking for areas where we showed some weaknesses,” Chambers said. “Lamar (Stevens) gets to the free throw line. Who’s that next guy that’s going to get us to the free throw line? (Myreon Jones’) setback hurt us a bit. Do we need another guy who can go off the bounce and do a little more, who can shoot and finish at the rim?”

Impressive numbers: The Penn State head coach answered his own questions with the addition of Sessons, who made 134 of his 394 3-point attempts and attempted 106 free throws at Binghamton. His free throw attempts would’ve ranked second behind Stevens at Penn State in 2019-2020.

The sophomore guard racked up plenty of on-court accolades in his two years at Binghamton. He won the America East Rookie of the Year in 2018-2019 and won the conference’s rookie of the week award seven times. Sessoms averaged 17.8 points per game and 3.5 assists per game and led the team in both categories. He made 36.6% of his 3-point attempts that season on 5.8 shots per game from beyond the arc.

His sophomore year was more of the same on the court. He averaged 19.4 points per game to lead the America East and 4.8 assists per game to finish second in the conference. Sessoms is one of only two America East underclassmen in the conference’s 41-year history to finish in the top five of both scoring and assists as a freshman and sophomore, joining current NBA player J.J. Barea. His accolades led to a second-team all-conference selection as a sophomore.

Ready to compete: Even with all of his accomplishments in his first two years in college, Sessoms expects to work for everything he gets when he takes the court as a Nittany Lion.

“I just know I’m going to go in and work my hardest,” Sessoms said. “I’m gonna compete every day in the weight room and on the court. I never know what’s going to happen, but one thing I know for sure is that I’m gonna work my hardest out there. I know nothing is gonna be given to me but I’m ready to earn it.”