Nazeer Bostick brings the best out of his teammates with his constant chirping at practice.
He gets in Penn State forward Lamar Stevens’ face. Make ’Mar finish with his left hand. He challenges point guard Tony Carr. Be all tough with Tony. He don’t want that.
Talking trash is part of the Penn State sophomore’s game.
“That’ll never change,” Stevens said, laughing, during the team’s media day in October. “That’ll never change. That’s just who he is, but he’s competitive and he wants to win everything, so he just does everything he can.”
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Bostick’s jawing brings a competitive edge to practices and games for the Nittany Lions. Bostick said he picked up trash talk growing up in South Philadelphia, where he needed to be tough to survive. In high school, he played with emotion on the court, raising the level of his teammates’ play and exciting the crowd in big games. Not much has changed at Penn State, where Bostick has emerged as the Nittany Lions’ top reserve in his second season.
Going into the year, Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said Bostick could have a breakout season. Bostick spent the offseason in the weight room adding 25 pounds of muscle and in the gym working on his shot after a broken hand ended his freshman campaign. In the team’s first eight games this season, the sophomore showed his potential with 7.4 points per game in 20.5 minutes per game.
“This is really the first year he’s playing,” Chambers said Monday at the Bryce Jordan Center. “He’s almost like a freshman, so I think he’s doing some good things for us. He’s starting to get a better understanding of defensively where he needs to be. He’s got a great body on him — he’s every bit of 6-5. I think that’s why we’re rebounding the ball much better.”
Chambers described Bostick as “a quiet kid in general.” Chris McNesby — Bostick’s coach at Roman Catholic — said his former player is quiet and laid-back off the court. But McNesby added Bostick’s on-court personality comes out when he’s with close friends. If Bostick and Carr are talking about any topic, McNesby said, Bostick will sometimes be the contrarian to start a friendly argument.
In his career at Roman Catholic, Bostick often showed his emotion after finishing a putback and pulling down a rebound by giving a fist pump or jawing on his way down the court. McNesby tried to scale him back at times — “Hey man, just play,” the coach would say — but he also knew Bostick was at his best when he was chirping a little bit. That’s just who he is.
“I had that since I was young,” Bostick said. “When I was young, I had run track, I had played football, I played basketball. I think that’s being a competitive person and just being me and being where I’m from — just always had the trash talk in me.
“And I knew from a young age that that’s what gets me going.”
And when Bostick played football, he drew inspiration from Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed.
“I know he used to talk trash to the opposite team just to get his team going or just to get himself going,” Bostick said. “Just watching guys like that, that’s motivated me to just be comfortable with the person that you are, be comfortable with the skin you’re in and just say what’s on your mind. If you know it’s right and if you know your team’s going to get going and you’re going to get going by whatever you’re saying, then it’s all go.”
Bostick has been getting after Stevens and Carr since the trio played together at Roman Catholic. McNesby remembers one day during the preseason, with everyone trying to prove themselves, Bostick picked up Carr full-court on defense, telling the point guard he wasn’t strong enough. Carr shot back that Bostick couldn’t shoot. Bostick often pushed his teammates with his trash talk — in high school, Bostick took aim at Stevens’ shooting ability — to maintain a high level of intensity at practices.
“Days where maybe Tony thought he was just going to kind of cruise, Naz wouldn’t let him,” McNesby said. “And all of the sudden, that wakes Tony up or Lamar. That just brings the best out of everyone. He never allowed anyone to coast.”
He’s still challenging Carr and Stevens and the rest of his teammates during practices at Penn State. The Nittany Lions have come to expect Bostick’s chatter every day.
“There are days when I don’t do it sometimes,” Bostick said. “They provoke me and get me there or get me mad to start talking trash.”
Bostick’s 2017-18 stats
Games played: 8
Points per game: 7.4
Shooting percentage: .413
Rebounds per game: 2.9
Total steals: 10