The world of recruiting graduate students transfers can sometimes play out like the dating scene — two parties may have an interest in one another, but are unsure how to break the ice. That’s where a mutual friend can step in and kick the tires on a potential relationship.
In the case of Miami, Ohio transfer Allen Roberts, who ended up in Happy Valley this summer, that person was former Penn State standout Jamelle Cornley.
“(Penn State’s coaches) were trying to get my number and Jamelle actually called me,” said Roberts, a Middletown, Ohio native who played on the same AAU team as Cornley’s younger brother, Javon. “He had gotten word they were interested, so I talked to him and he gave them my number and started to call me. We were in contact ever since.”
Roberts noted those talks with Pat Chambers and his coaching staff started in mid-May, and the 6-foot-3 guard joined the team the following month after hearing the Nittany Lions’ sales pitch.
“It was a decision that was made based on the willingness to come in and try to get something done that hasn’t been done,” Roberts said. “Coach Chambers has a really enthusiastic attitude and a great approach to winning, and I want to come in and help the program any way I can.”
Though he sat out the 2011-12 season with a right knee injury, Roberts carries plenty of experience from Miami, where he graduated in the spring. Roberts played in 92 games (54 starts) during his three seasons with the Redhawks and in 2012-13 led the team in scoring with 12.3 average.
Roberts is immediately eligible because of NCAA transfer rules for graduate students, and he figures to help the Nittany Lions in a category they desperately need some assistance — outside shooting. Penn State shot 29.6 percent from beyond the arc last season and lost what would’ve been its top returning 3-point threat in Jermaine Marshall. Roberts made 33.8 percent of his long balls last season, and Chambers called him the team’s best 3-point option.
“I think you’re going to be really impressed with Allen Roberts, he can really stroke it,” Chambers said a week ago at the team’s media day. “He’ll play two or three. He can hit the three, no question, but he can do more, he can put it on the ground.”
Chambers noted Roberts probably won’t be in the opening-day starting lineup for the Nittany Lions. But the guard will get minutes and he said he hopes to stretch defenses to not only get shots, but to allow driving lanes for fellow guards Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill.
Roberts said he did watch film of the Nittany Lions in anticipation to joining the team, but had also watched the team closely in the past. During Cornley’s tenure, Roberts remembers viewing what he called a “tough and physical” forward, but the transfer’s connections to the program go beyond the player who was the leader of the 2009 NIT Championship team.
Roberts’ cousin Bill Edwards played one season for Ed DeChellis at Penn State in 2010. Edwards, ironically, transferred to Miami, where he and Roberts were teammates for a few seasons.
Pulling the reverse of his cousin, Roberts said the transition has gone smoothly. He is a veteran newcomer, and he has strived to look much more like the former than the latter.
“It’s a different type of feel,” Roberts said. “I am new, but I am older than a majority of the guys. I just had to grasp a hold of my experiences and use them to my advantage. I don’t want to come out and looks like an underclassman. I want to perform like an upperclassman.”
Roberts was around for part of the summer and went on the team’s 3-game European Tour in August, which he called “phenomenal.” And from the sounds of it, he has had no trouble fitting in with his new teammates.
“He’s hilarious, man,” Newbill said. “He’s always telling jokes The first day we met him, it was like he knew us already, coming in talking, telling jokes, things like that. Everybody accepted him, he’s a great guy. He wanted to work, he wanted to win. That’s the main thing, he has a will to win and it’s helping the team.”
If it can push the Nittany Lions — who have won just 22 games in Chambers’ first two campaigns — to make a run this season, Cornley just might have a future in matchmaking.