If everything goes to plan, Lamar Stevens’ name will be at or near the top of numerous Penn State records at the end of his senior season.
An average season scoring the ball will place him as the Nittany Lions’ all-time leader in points. He’s already top 10 in program history in field goal attempts, free throw attempts and blocks and he’ll likely finish in the top 10 in rebounds.
But one underrated list that Stevens will likely find himself second or third all-time on is minutes.
He probably won’t reach Talor Battle’s Big Ten record of 4,799 career minutes, but another season of 1,200-plus minutes isn’t out of the question for Stevens.
And after a hectic offseason that began with Stevens traveling from one NBA city to the next, unsure of what his future may hold, now is an incredibly important time for Stevens.
“He’s started for three straight years. He’s logged a lot of minutes,” Pat Chambers said in July. “Workload is a good term, we’ve been talking about it since the season ended. He didn’t have any time off, he went right into to try to improve his status or his value for the NBA.”
Workload, load management, whatever you want to call it –– it’s on Chambers’ mind as he heads into a crucial season in Happy Valley. Needing another First Team All-Big Ten caliber season from Stevens, the time to start thinking about managing Stevens’ workload is right now.
“We have done a very good job of giving these guys time off. It’s been a long offseason for Lamar,” Chambers said. “We have to be extremely intelligent on how we approach this summer. We don’t want him burnt out in December.”
Stevens is also aware of how conscious he needs to be about how he manages his effort level in practice, workouts, etc. The offseason is certainly the most important time on the college basketball calendar from a developmental standpoint, but the most important games are played in February and March.
“It’s definitely something that we think about as a whole,” Stevens said. “I played a lot of minutes last year and then went straight to NBA workouts.”
“It’s something that myself, my staff, [athletic trainer Jon Salazar] and [strength coach] Greg [Miskinis] have all talked about this spring and going into this summer –– not overdoing it,” Chambers added.
But Chambers also knows that Stevens still has to be present to set an example for the incoming freshmen –– specifically Seth Lundy, who reminds a lot of people of the freshman version of Stevens in terms of body type and physical stature.
“He’s gotta be a leader,” Chambers said. “We can’t completely remove him from the team, but he’s gotta show the younger guys how it’s done and pass down his words of wisdom.”
A change in weight could also be in Stevens’ future. He entered his freshman season weighing just under 220 pounds but has put on significant muscle since his arrival and is now up over 230 pounds. He doesn’t want to lose that strength that he’s spent his entire career building, but he could decide to get a tad thinner, a move that will pay off behind the 2019-20 season.
“I might decide to go down a little bit,” Stevens said. “I feel like it’s better for me long term. I want to maintain the same strength, but maybe just change my diet a little bit.”
Numerous times, Chambers said he, Stevens, and the coaching and training staffs all have to be smart. It’s not as easy as just having Stevens sit out games like NBA superstars have done in recent years. Whether it’s giving him a minutes restriction in certain nonconference games or adjusting his practice schedule during the season, there are options to ensure Stevens is feeling as close to 100 percent as possible when the Big Ten Tournament rolls around.
“We’ve gotta be smart, just picking and choosing what’s best,” Chambers said.