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April 14, 2009This week a year ago, the Penn State men's basketball program welcomed two new members to the Nittany Lions in the form of Cammeron Woodyard and Chris Babb, who both signed their letters of intent on April 16.
The same day, head coach Ed DeChellis and his staff were given more good news when Jermaine Marshall, a 6-foot-4, 190 pounder from Red Land High School in Lewisbury, Pa., made a verbal commitment for Penn State's class of 2009.
He had just come off a phenomenal junior season, breaking the school record for scoring while averaging 19 points a game, his stock on the national basketball recruiting scene rising in the process.
For all the potential he showed his junior season, Marshall was dealt a devastating blow in the autumn when his right kneecap popped out, tearing his patella tendon while at an open gym.
"I was setting up for an ally-oop and I tripped over a teammates' foot and I guess I spun the wrong way," Marshall said. "I didn't fall that hard so I guess it was kind of meant to happen."
The injury required surgery on his birthday, November 7, and forced him out of his entire senior season at Red Land.
For the first six weeks, Marshall was on crutches and had his leg stabalized by what he described as a pretty clunky 'cast/brace kind of thing'.
Although he longed to get back on the floor with his teammates, Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, who performed the surgery, advised Marshall against trying to come back toward the end of the season. Marshall took the advice, simply spending his time going to games, watching some practices and spending the rest of his time focusing on rehab and schoolwork.
The transition away from basketball for a whole season was something he'd never experienced before, and took its toll on him, Marshall said.
Yet, he switched his focus over to rehab and took it very seriously.
"At times it was boring when I first started out but then it got tough. I enjoyed that," Marshall said. "I really like to work out and I like hard workouts so I wanted to rush it but obviously I couldn't. I wanted to push harder but, again, it was tough to go through at the beginning because it was so boring but now I like it because I get a nice workout on my legs and everything."
Six months since the injury, Marshall has done the entire rehab process and today, is able to finally return to the sport he loves at full speed.
"About now I feel pretty good," he said. "Everything is running smooth. I've been working out kind of hard lately. I can work out as much as I want.
"I went to see Dr. Sebastianelli this past Wednesday and he told my therapist I've gotta take the strength test and after that I should be fine and I can start playing basketball again. I feel just about 100 percent."
While Marshall was rehabbing his way back, his future teammates at Penn State were putting together a solid 2008-09 campaign, eventually leading to an NIT Championship.
Although he said the snub for a bid to the NCAA Tournament was devastating for the squad, the season as a whole showed what the Nittany Lions are capable of.
"I think this year was a big accomplishment and opened a lot of people's eyes, a lot of spectators that didn't really believe in what coach DeChellis and the team had going," he said. "It was a big accomplishment obviously winning the NIT and showed a lot of people that Penn State basketball is on the rise and hopefully next year I can come in and help and get some minutes."
When Marshall does arrive at Penn State this summer for the second summer session in late-June, his future position on the squad might come as a surprise.
While he played anything from point guard to the center position on his high school team two seasons ago, he was recruited to play at Penn State as a shooting guard.
"Coach DeChellis recruited me as a two. He said I could play multiple positions," he said. "As a player, I try to do a lot of things. Obviously, I get my teammates involved. That's my first instinct is to pass but I can score. I can get to the basket."
At 6-foot-4, 192 pounds, Marshall is going to need to continue the strenuous weight-room regimine he's currently set on which includes lifting, shooting, running and jump rope every day.
As Marshall explained, DeChellis envisions him eventually playing at around 225 pounds.
Regardless of what his weight is, Marshall said he simply wants to help the Lions win.
"Hopefully I can be a guy that can come in and make an impact right away," Marshall said. "The biggest thing is I just want to be a help. If it's coming off the bench or if it's helping in practice or if it's starting, I just want to be a help to the team either way and have a positive outlook.
"They obviously accomplished a lot and hopefully I just want to be a guy to help them get to the next level."