Penn State Basketball

Watkins learning through tough Big Ten stretch

Penn State coach Patrick Chambers kept teaching during the loss to Purdue, sitting with Mike Watkins on the bench and talking to him about Boilermakers forward Caleb Swanigan.

Swanigan, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds, serves as an example for Watkins early in his career.

“Swanigan’s a pro,” Chambers said. “That’s a no-brainer. I mean that’s how good he is, and then you talk to Mike, say, ‘Look, look at his work ethic, look what he’s doing.’ ”

Watkins has proven to be one of the league’s best young players this season, averaging 9.8 points and 8.1 rebounds.

But the redshirt freshman has had a tough week in the team’s games against Indiana and Purdue, facing Hoosiers center Thomas Bryant and Purdue’s big men Swanigan and Isaac Haas.

“I think it’s just great for him,” Chambers said of the competition. “... Humble pie, baby.”

After scoring 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in the win over Minnesota, Watkins was in foul trouble against Indiana. He finished with four points and zero rebounds.

In the loss to Purdue, he had six points and three rebounds.