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Over the last five seasons, Patrick Chambers has reinvigorated Penn State basketball. Since being named the 12th head coach in program history June 6, 2011, the Philly native quickly energized his players and staff, as well as the Penn State fan base with his passion, enthusiasm and his team’s all-out style of play.
The 2015-16 freshman class - the first Top 30 recruiting class in PSU history - clearly illustrates the progress Chambers and his staff have made during their time in Happy Valley. The future continues to be bright as Penn State will welcome a four-member consensus Top 15 class (at the time of signing) to begin their Nittany Lion careers in 2016-17.
Chambers has sent players into the professional ranks in each of the last three years with Tim Frazier (2010-14) signing most recently with the New Orleans Pelicans, and with a trio of players heading overseas: D.J. Newbill (2013-15; Belgium), Brandon Taylor (2013-16; Greece) and Donovon Jack (2013-16; England).
The 2014-15 senior class produced a Euroleague player (Newbill), a Kansas City Chiefs practice player (Ross Travis), a Ford engineer (Alan Wisniewski) and an accountant with eight-consecutive semesters of a 4.0 GPA (Kevin Montminy), proving all venues of success are available.
Penn State has had 16 or more wins in a season six times since 2000-01, including each of the last three seasons under the direction of Chambers. The Nittany Lions had not previously reached 16 wins in three-consecutive seasons since joining the Big Ten Conference. In both victory and defeat, however, the Philly native’s teams are heralded for their work ethic, perseverance and relentless attitude.
During his time with the Nittany Lions, Chambers has guided five players to a combined seven All-Big Ten honors, including Tim Frazier's first-team nod in 2011 and most recently with Brandon Taylor’s third-team selection in 2016. Frazier ended his career as the all-time leader in assists at Penn State – a record Chambers also holds to this date at his alma mater Philadelphia. When D.J. Newbill’s PSU career ended, he was the fourth-ranked scorer in Nittany Lion history, after just three seasons, and Ross Travis has the third-most rebounds of any player to ever don the Blue and White.
To Penn State students, Chambers is known around campus for his infectious energy. He ordered up a pair of golf carts and began making spur-of-the-moment trips around the University Park campus distributing t-shirts. In his first few years, he visited amusement parks, pep rallies, student groups, and classes and threw out first pitches. Chambers even went as far as to go behind the counter to serve free Big Macs to students at State College’s downtown McDonald’s and donned a Penn State football jersey and helmet to fire up the famed “Nittanyville” student campout.
The youngest of 12 children (nine boys, three girls) from a Philadelphia Irish Catholic family so large it ate dinner in shifts, Chambers’ route to Penn State was anything but usual and stands as a testament to the values of family, faith and attitude, which he holds dear. It was a path shaped by 2011 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee Herb Magee, Philadelphia high school coaching legend Dan Dougherty and highly successful Villanova coach Jay Wright. It was also shaped by a life altering attack that nearly claimed his life 10 years prior to his accepting the Nittany Lion post.
Chambers rise in coaching was meteoric. He served as a part-time assistant at Episcopal Academy (HS), Director of Operations at Villanova, assistant coach at Villanova, associate head coach on Jay Wright’s 2009 NCAA Final Four team and head coach at Boston University in a short seven years prior to leading a Big Ten program. The dizzying pace is reflective of his no holds barred approach to every day.
AT BOSTON UNIVERSITY
Chambers came to Penn State from Boston University, where in 2010-11 he led the Terriers to the America East Conference Championship and the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002. He posted a 42-28 record in two years in his first head coaching stint at BU. He was the only BU coach in history to earn 20 wins in each of his first two seasons and the fastest to earn a conference championship in program history.
The Terriers earned a 21-14 mark for the second straight year under Chambers in 2010-11. Led by 2011 America East Player-of-the-Year and two-time scoring champion John Holland, BU fell after challenging No. 1 seed Kansas in the Terriers’ first NCAA Tournament game since 2002. Chambers led BU to the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational in 2009-10. The Terriers won at Oregon State and beat Morehead State in the CBI, marking BU’s first post-season wins since 1959. BU also posted its first perfect home conference record since 1998.
Chambers stocked his Boston University teams with Philadelphia talent, including six players from the Philadelphia area in 2010-11, relying on long standing relationships and his first hand experience in the basketball community in the “City of Brotherly Love.” He also energized a stagnant basketball fan base at the hockey-centric school.
A native of Newtown Square, Pa., Chambers previously played for and coached with two of the nation’s most successful college coaches. From 2004-09, he was a member of Wright’s staff at Villanova University, serving as associate head coach in 2008-09. He helped the Wildcats earn four NCAA Sweet 16 appearances and advance to the 2009 NCAA Final Four during his tenure. Chambers played for Magee at Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia Textile), helping Magee become college basketball’s all-time victories leader (941) and a 2011 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.
During Chambers five seasons on Wright’s Villanova staff, he was instrumental in helping lead the Wildcats to a 126-45 record (.737), including the school’s single-season win record of 30-8 in 2008-09. The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Tournament all five seasons of Chambers’ tenure and posted a 56-28 (.667) record in Big East Conference games. Chambers had responsibilities in all facets of the program, including recruiting, scouting, on-court teaching and player development. He was instrumental in building the Wildcats 2009 recruiting class that was ranked No. 3 in the nation by ESPN.com and brought in ESPNU Top 100 players Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek, Mouphtaou Yarou and Isaiah Armwood to Villanova.
Named Villanova’s associate head coach in 2008, Chambers helped lead the Wildcats to the 2009 NCAA Final Four, the school’s first in 24 years, and saw Villanova advance to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in five NCAA appearances during his tenure. Villanova posted an 11-5 mark in the NCAA Tournament during Chambers’ time on the Wildcat staff and won at least 22 games in each of his five seasons, including the 2009 senior class posting a school record 126 career victories.
Chambers also served as Villanova Director of Basketball Operations (2004-05) and as an assistant coach (2005-2008) under Wright, the 2009 Big East Coach-of-the-Year. Four Villanova players Chambers worked with played in the NBA and five other Wildcats from his tenure have played professionally overseas. He recruited four McDonald’s All-Americans to Villanova.
PRIOR TO COLLEGIATE COACHING
Chambers was a standout guard under Magee, known as “The Shot Doctor,” at Philadelphia U. graduating from the University in 1994 with a degree in marketing and a minor in finance. He joined the NCAA Division II University’s basketball team as a walk-on in 1990 and went on to have an outstanding career, becoming the team’s starting point guard, earning first-team All-ECAC honors and leaving as the school record holder in assists with 709. Chambers helped lead the Rams to four NCAA Division II Sweet 16 appearances and two Elite Eight appearances.
Chambers began his coaching career with a one-year stint as an assistant coach at Delaware Valley (Pa.) College in 1995-96. He left coaching to pursue the family business, but returned in 1999 after being named the top varsity assistant coach at Episcopal Academy, a position he held through 2004. High School All-Americans Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) and Gerald Henderson (Duke) were among the players he helped develop at Episcopal Academy under coach Dan Dougherty.
Chambers himself played for Dougherty at Episcopal. Dougherty logged 621 victories at Episcopal, the most of any city high school coach, and also served collegiate coaching stints as the successor to Bob Knight at Army (1972-75) and as an assistant at Villanova (1967-72). Dougherty coached such standouts in the college game as Fran Dunphy, Bruiser Flint, Fran O’Hanlon and Jerome Allen.
THE CHAMBERS FAMILY
Three of Chambers’ 11 siblings are Penn State graduates -- brothers Chris and Joe and a sister, Megan, who resides in State College. Chambers’ older brother, Tim, was the 1984 Ivy League Player-of-the-Year as a defensive back on a Penn football team that won three-consecutive Ivy League titles. Another older brother, Paul, was a three-year starting point guard (1989-92) on the Penn basketball team and stands fifth all-time in career assists for the Quakers with 396.
Chambers and his wife, Courtney, have four children: Grace, Ryan, Caitlin and Patrick.