With Penn State well on its way to a blowout of Rutgers, Kevin Montminy became the center of attention.
“We want Kevin” chants rang out from the Penn State student section during a Scarlet Knight timeout with 3:35 to play in a 29-point game. They made their request again as the clock ticked toward the three-minute mark, holding up the No. 14 jersey towels they received as a giveaway at the game in late January.
As the final minute approached, coach Patrick Chambers walked to the end of the bench and gave Montminy a fist bump to send him to the scorer’s table. He checked in with 54.7 seconds left to the delight of the Bryce Jordan Center crowd, including a proud contingent in attendance for Penns Valley Community Day.
“The place just went crazy,” said Mary Montminy, his mother. “It was just the best feeling ever.”
“That was the best,” his father, Peter, agreed.
The Penns Valley community turned out that day to celebrate what the former Ram standout had accomplished in his four years at Penn State. Montminy will be honored again on Senior Night along with teammates D.J. Newbill, Ross Travis and Alan Wisniewski before Wednesday’s game against No. 23 Ohio State (21-8, 10-6), set for 6 p.m. at the Jordan Center.
“I want the best for them,” Chambers said of the senior class. “They were loyal. They’ve stayed committed. They battled through a lot of challenges and adversity and they stayed true to who they are. They mean the world to me because they easily could have left.”
Montminy came to Penn State (15-14, 3-13) as a preferred walk-on and earned a scholarship for his senior season. He has played in 44 games in his career, including four appearances this year. He’s one of the team’s captains, and he’s earned a 4.0 GPA the last six semesters.
Montminy enjoyed a stellar career at Penns Valley.
He picked up third-team all-state honors and led the Rams to their first District 6 Class AA title as a junior in 2010. He was a second-team all-state selection as a senior and finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,498 points.
Penns Valley Terry Glunt recalls Montminy piling up points and impressing with effortless pull-up 3-pointers during his career.
“He did some things on the basketball court when I look at some footage that are quite remarkable that I may have taken for granted at the time,” Glunt said. “He helped us win the school’s only district championship in 2010. We won a lot of games with Kevin playing for us.”
During Montminy’s senior season, he met with then-Penn State associate head coach Kurt Kanaskie, who later went to see him play at Tyrone.
Montminy wanted his teammates focused on winning the game, so he kept Kanaskie’s presence a secret. He shared the news after the game in the locker room.
“I told my teammates that he was there and that was a possibility and I remember everyone being really excited for me, which probably meant the most to me,” Montminy said.
He finds himself repeating the same thought when he talks about earning a scholarship after starting his career as a walk-on.
Montminy received an offer to walk on at Penn State in a meeting with Kanaskie and former coach Ed DeChellis a week after the Tyrone game. He didn’t accept the offer right away — he was still weighing other options and had gone on visits to Ivy League schools for football — but he said deep down, he knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
He accepted the offer, but DeChellis left for Navy.
When Chambers took over the program, he gave Montminy the same chance to be a preferred walk-on.
“I stuck with it and told him that I would give him everything I have and that’s what I tried to do over the last four years,” Montminy said.
Montminy has lived up to that promise.
Chambers rewarded him with a scholarship before this season, giving Montminy the news after he broke his nose diving for a loose ball at practice. Montminy took pride in seeing his teammates’ reaction and knowing his coaches thought he deserved the scholarship.
That style of play has taken its toll.
His father said Kevin has suffered four concussions, forcing him to be more conservative in practice since the fall.
“The same thing that earned him a scholarship and a captaincy with his coaches and teammates was the same thing that got him in trouble,” Peter Montminy said. “He got a number of injuries because he would kind of go all-out, including several concussions in practices.”
Montminy’s parents call his Penn State career a blessing.
They appreciate the support he’s received from the Penns Valley and Centre County communities throughout his career. It wasn’t lost on Montminy after the team’s 79-51 win over Rutgers in January.
Former coaches, teachers and teammates turned out along with the high school basketball teams and youth program for the community day.
“The support has just blown me away from not only the Penns Valley community but just the central Pennsylvania community,” Montminy said, “and people that I might not even know that well, that they follow me and I meet them and they talk to me and say how I may have been a role model or something like that. And that’s really the biggest compliment that I could ever get is that what I’ve done could maybe help somebody else in the future.”
Montminy said he will still be at Penn State next year to finish his master’s degree in accounting. He’ll also graduate with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance.
And he’ll leave content with his basketball career.
“Even though the basketball aspect might not have been the same, I could have gone somewhere smaller and been one of the starters and everything like that,” Montminy said, “I’m so thankful I chose this route because Penn State’s come to mean the world to me.”