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Nov. 10, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; Nov. 10, 2010 - Penn State men's basketball coach Ed DeChellis received four National Letters of Intent Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA Early Signing period, as he welcomed players from four states to the Nittany Lion program that represent the tallest and one of the most highly rated classes in his eight-year tenure.
Penn State added significant size and athleticism to its frontcourt with the signing of a pair of 6-11 forwards in Patrick Ackerman (Rutland, Mass.) and Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) and 6-8 forward Ross Travis (Chaska, Minn.). The Nittany Lion backcourt also picked up a scorer and leader in 6-1 combo-guard Trey Lewis (Garfield Heights, Ohio). Three of the future Nittany Lions were recently graded above 90 by ESPN.com.
"We feel very good about the positions we were able to address and the talented players we were able to bring to Penn State in this class," DeChellis said. "We've added some terrific size to the frontcourt in Peter and Patrick. Ross is a long and very versatile player that can do a lot of things for us and we really think Trey can be a tremendous point-guard in the Big Ten.
"It's a great group not only talent wise, but also personality wise," DeChellis continued. "They're all motivated, are hard workers, have great attitudes and families behind them and will be great additions on and off the court for our program."
Ackerman (6-11, 220, Worcester Academy Prep) brings a strong defensive and rebounding presence around the rim and the ability to run the floor and play in transition. Ranked a three star recruit by Rivals.com, he has a sturdy base and is projected to add bulk to his frame, having already grown from 6-9, 195 in his first year at Worcester to 6-11 and more than 220 pounds going into his final season according to Worcester coach Ed Reilly. He was ranked among the top 20 senior-to-be prospects in his region, according to the New England Recruiting Report, before having a breakout summer on the AAU circuit. Ackerman was named to the All-Tournament Team at the GymRat Challenge in Albany, N.Y. He posted 10 points, seven rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as a junior according to Reilly who said he expects his numbers to rise significantly in his final campaign as he plays a more natural position away from the basket and running the floor.
"Pat is a very diligent worker both in the weight room and on the court," Reilly said. "He is an interesting kid. He has a great skill package, which isn't readily visible because of his need to add strength at the moment. He can really run rim-to-rim, fill lanes and score in transition and is more of a prototypical four man. He's going to be a great pick-and-pop guy and is a good face up shooter in the 10-15 foot range."
Alexis (6-11, 250, Holy Redeemer HS) is a skilled back-to-the-basket scorer and strong offensive rebounder tabbed "a proverbial Big Ten recruit" by ESPN.com for his size and body. Alexis has totaled 1,443 points and 802 rebounds in three seasons as a starter at Holy Redeemer. He posted 22.0 ppg and 10.4 rpg as a junior while shooting 66 percent from the floor to earn second-team Pennsylvania Class AAA All-state honors. He helped lead his team to a 25-4 record and district runner-up finish. Redeemer lost in the second round of the state playoffs to eventual state champion Neumann-Goretti. Alexis averaged 18.8 ppg and 11.2 rpg while shooting 68 percent from the floor as a sophomore and had averages of 11.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg as a freshman.
"What I like about Peter is he is very hard working, listens very well and his best years are ahead of him," said Holy Redeemer coach Mark Belenski. "His work ethic is second to none. He has a great opportunity at Penn State and I think he'll take full advantage of it. He'll need to get stronger in the Big Ten, but he has a nasty streak no one knows about and he'll take on the challenge of playing against bigger players."
The long and athletic Travis (6-8, 215, Chaska HS) is a three star recruit according to ESPN.com and Rivals.com and was tabbed as the top prospect in Minnesota for the class of 2011. A versatile player with excellent passing skills and a long-armed defender, Travis had strong interest from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, Colorado and Oregon State among others. Travis averaged 12 points and better than eight rebounds a game as a junior for a Chaska team that posted a 17-12 record. A player that began his career as a guard, Travis underwent a five-inch growth spurt after his freshman year. He was typically assigned to guard the opposing team's best player and put together several highlight reel drives and dunks during a junior campaign in which he missed 12 of 29 games with injuries.
"He can handle it. He can create for others and he can create for himself off the dribble." Chaska coach Dana Kallman told the Daily Collegian. "But, the biggest thing that attracts college coaches is his athleticism."
Lewis (6-1, 175, Garfield Heights HS) is a tremendous scorer and shooter with range to 25 feet and a floor leader's mentality and ability. The scoring combo-guard averaged 22.0 ppg, 5.6 apg and 3.0 rpg as a junior leading his team in scoring, assists, field goal percentage and three-point percentage while shooting a school-record 51 percent from the arc. Garfield Heights went 15-9 last year in the Northeast Ohio Conference after winning 20 games each of the previous two seasons. The school has sent six players to Division I programs in the last six years. Lewis played for the Donyell Marshall Foundation and Friends 4 Life AAU programs over the summer and had strong interest from Wisconsin, Indiana, Saint Joseph's and Xavier.
"He was first in every sprint, had to win every race," Lewis's Garfield Heights coach Sonny Johnson told the Centre Daily Times. "If you tell him to do 11 pushups, he'll do 12. He has a lot of skills, but a lot of the tools he has he worked for. I haven't had (a player) with (Lewis') type of personality and his character."
Penn State has one more available scholarship.
Penn State will open the regular season at home against Lehigh at 7:30 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 12. "Opening Night" at the Bryce Jordan Center will have free admission for all Penn State freshmen and a $5 concession stand voucher for all student season ticket holder. Penn State opens the season with four straight games at the BJC including a Nov. 16 matchup against St. Joseph's.
Nittany Lion Basketball season tickets are available by calling 814-865-5555. Season tickets are $220 for adults, $190 for seniors for a 19-game home schedule and $59 for students. PNC Flex Books are also available again this year for $99. The Flex Book gives fans 12 vouchers, 10 that can be redeemed in any combination for Nittany Lion and Lady Lion Basketball tickets throughout the year and two extra vouchers for the Nittany Lions' Coaches Vs. Cancer game and the Lady Lions' Think Pink game.
For all the latest information, notes, pictures and related links on Penn State basketball follow Assistant Athletic Communications Director Brian Siegrist on Twitter (@PSUSTRETCH) and check GoPSUsports.com. The Nittany Lions are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennstatebasketball.