STATE COLLEGE — Last season, Tim Frazier emerged as one of the best point guards in the country, while NCAA transfer rules forced D.J. Newbill to watch from the sidelines.
This season, the two Penn State guards — who their coach said could have been the best tandem in the nation when the season began — have switched places.
The duo will be part of a special Big Ten Network episode of “The Journey” that takes a look at point guards in the conference.
“It’s great for the school, it’s great for our program for the Big Ten Network to recognize the point guards on our team,” Frazier said. “To come in and see practice and see what we go through and how we’re trying to get better each day.”
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The show will air Saturday night, immediately following the 8 p.m. game between Wisconsin and Iowa on the Big Ten Network. Four point guards from around the conference will be profiled.
“One of the challenges as a producer is you don’t want all four stories to be identical,” said Bill Friedman, coordinating producer in charge of BTN Original Productions.
Friedman credited BTN senior feature producer Julian Darnell with the idea of having a point guard show.
“What really appealed to us about Penn state was that it was a situation that involved an injury and some inexperience.”
Penn State fans had grown accustomed to seeing Frazier play hard and crash violently to the floor, but when the senior was slow to get up Nov. 18 against Akron something seemed am
The young man from Houston, Texas ruptured his left Achilles tendon just a few minutes into the Nittany Lions’ second game at the Puerto Rico Tipoff in Bayamon.
He will seek a medical hardship waiver at season’s end that would grant him another year of eligibility.
His sister, Krystal, suffered the same injury while a junior on the Rice women’s basketball team and was in attendance that afternoon.
The season-ending injury put an already rebuilding program under greater strain and forced its players into uncomfortable roles.
Newbill, a natural wing player, was asked by Chambers to take over the point guard duties. The redshirt sophomore sat out last season after transferring from Southern Mississippi, but was still named a captain when this season began.
The transformation to lead guard has been a process he’s going through with the help of Frazier.
“He’s kind of like a coach,” Newbill said. “He’s kind of mentoring me and taking me under his wing like I’m his little brother. He took on the role last year of being a leader on the team, so I think he sees a lot of me going through some of the same things.”
Newbill has struggled at times and been stellar in others. Against No. 18 Michigan State Newbill poured in 27 points and dealt six assists. His 15.9 points and 3.9 assists per game lead the team.
“He’s doing well,” Frazier said. “He’s growing. He’s getting better. You can tell by his game against Michigan State.”