In eight seasons at Penn State, Ed DeChellis brought more than two dozen recruits to Penn State. Three of them -- including one transfer -- were from or around Philadelphia. And one of those -- point guard Ben Luber -- was technically recruited by predecessor Jerry Dunn.
In eight months at Penn State, Patrick Chambers has received commitments or signed letters of intent from five players. Three of them -- including one transfer -- were from or around Philadelphia.
That's a big difference and, though only time will tell, the quality of those players seems as though it could be vastly different as well.
The Nittany Lions got a commitment Thursday from Brandon Austin, a versatile Class of 2013 guard from Imhotep Charter, the defending PIAA Class AA state champion. The stringy 6-foot-6 Austin is poised to join D.J. Newbill, a transfer from Southern Mississippi who played at Strawberry Mansion High School in Philly, and Brandon Taylor, who plays for Trenton Catholic High in New Jersey but plays his AAU ball in Philadelphia for Team Philly, of which Austin is also a member.
Throw in 2013 guard Geno Thorpe of Shaler, at the other end of the state, and you've got the foundation for not only a solid future roster but a strong start to establishing a consistent and effective recruiting presence in Pennsylvania.
"We've got to recruit across the country," Chambers said Friday. "We've got to recruit the best players we can get, and it's not easy to do. But to be able to go into those areas and get players, that's critical."
Chambers cannot, by NCAA rule, talk about specific prospects until they're signed. But the Philadelphia native was undoubtedly thrilled to have received a commitment from Austin, who is considered one of the state's top-five prospects and was being pursued by the likes of Villanova, Syracuse and Georgetown.
The Nittany Lions are not going to be able to compete with Ohio State and Michigan State for Big Ten championships until they are able to compete against Villanova, Pitt and Temple for the best players in the state. Chambers and his staff will still need to mine different regions of Pennsylvania for top players but Philadelphia, because of the high level of competition in the high school programs as well as the AAU teams, will continue to churn out a high percentage of them.
"It's the coaching, the high schools, the rivalries," Chambers said. "You think about how many Philadelphia born and bred college coaches there are out across the country, it's crazy. Everybody wants to say New York and New Jersey -- Philly is a hotbed area for talent."
It's also becoming an area with more blue-and-white flags stuck in the ground.