At the NJCAA tournament in late March, Vincennes (Ind.) University guard Devin Foster took a moment to check out the flock of Division-I coaches in attendance in Hutchinson, Kan.
The sophomore was ready to prove he could play at the highest level after being overlooked coming out of high school.
And as he scanned the crowd, Foster — who followed the Big Ten closely throughout the season — couldn’t help but notice Penn State associate head coach Brian Daly sitting courtside.
“There was a lot of coaches there,” Foster said, “but I saw the Penn State logo and I just prayed to God that he was looking at me.”
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A few days after the tournament, Foster received a call from Daly expressing Penn State’s interest in the guard. Foster verbally committed to the Nittany Lions on his visit last weekend, and Penn State announced Wednesday he signed his national letter of intent with the program.
Foster, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound guard from Dayton, Ohio, averaged 12.2 points and a team-high 4.8 assists per game this season. The lefty also earned NJCAA second-team All-American honors after leading the Trailblazers to a 34-3 record.
“Devin is coming off a remarkable season, leading his team to the Final Four and being named a JUCO All-American,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said in a release. “He's a competitive kid, who will bring a winning attitude to our program.”
For Foster, his signing validates his decision to go to junior college rather than settling for a mid-major offer coming out of high school. He adds another option to fill the void left at point guard with Tim Frazier graduating and Graham Woodward transferring.
Foster played point guard at Vincennes this year after spending much of his freshman season at shooting guard. And he’s confident he can run the show for the Nittany Lions.
“I’m a point guard so every team needs a nice, solid point guard to get their team involved, calmed down,” Foster said. “My game is basically score when I need to, move the ball around, get everybody involved.”
Vincennes coach Todd Franklin said Foster is strong attacking the basket and efficient from beyond the arc, where he shot 39.3 percent this season.
Franklin also said Foster has a good feel for the game and doesn’t make many mistakes, as evidenced by his 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. With those attributes and his sturdy build, Franklin feels he’ll be prepared for Big Ten play.
“He’s got a Big Ten body in terms of being big, strong, thick, so I think that transition will be easier for him than most,” Franklin said. “And like I said, he’s been part of winning really his whole life.”
As a sophomore at Dayton’s Jefferson Township High School, Foster and Michigan State’s Adreian Payne led the school to a state title. He then moved to Louisiana for his junior season before going back to Jefferson for his senior year.
Foster said Toledo and Dayton were among the schools looking at him in high school. But he wanted to see if he could work his way into a bigger offer and chose to attend Vincennes, where his father, Cal Foster, played before finishing his career at Providence.
After Foster helped the Trailblazers to a 67-7 record and consecutive Final Four appearances, Franklin’s still not sure why there wasn’t more interest.
“I really don’t know why he wasn’t recruited harder than he was coming out of high school,” Franklin said. “It didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time and after having him two years, it doesn’t make a lot of sense now.”
Foster guaranteed he wouldn’t fly under the radar again with his performance at the NJCAA tournament this year.
He led the Trailblazers to a third-place finish and earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
His play caught the eye of Daly and impressed Chambers, who tuned in via live stream for some games. Soon after, he got Daly’s call.
“I was just shocked,” Foster said. “If you really play hard and practice and grind each day, dreams do really come true and it finally paid off for me.”
Foster said he was considering Texas A&M, but he quickly fell in love with Penn State.
He got a tour of the campus, went to the Blue-White game and played pickup games with his future teammates on his visit last weekend. He also came away excited to play for Chambers.
“As soon as I got off the airplane, meeting coach Chambers for the first time, he just gave me a big hug and it just felt safe,” Foster said. “It felt safe being there as a player, and I feel like he’s gonna take good care of me and just treat me like one of his other players. I’m just so happy and thankful that he’s giving me this opportunity to play for him.”
Foster’s ready for the challenge at Penn State.
He said he’ll likely arrive on campus this summer to start preparing for this season.
Said Foster: “I just can’t wait to get to Penn State.”