Lamar Stevens’ legacy

Penn State v. Indiana (Photo by Steve Manuel steve.manuel6@gmail.com)

Lamar Stevens moved into third place all-time in scoring (1,994) for Penn State basketball on Wednesday night against Indiana. Photo credit: Steve Manuel.

Lamar Stevens has increasingly cemented his all-time standing within the Penn State hoops program this season.

There are the points — he’s now third among Nittany Lions with 1,994 in his career. Stevens also eclipsed the 800-rebound mark in the team’s win against Indiana on Wednesday. Tied at halftime, Penn State outpaced the Hoosiers in the second half for a 64-49 victory, boosted by Stevens’ 17 points, nine rebounds, and four steals.

It was the latest performance in a season that’s shaping up to be Pat Chambers’ most memorable in Happy Valley. In December, Penn State earned a national ranking for the first time in more than two decades, and a likely NCAA Tournament appearance awaits the team in March.

When Stevens opted to return to Penn State for his senior year, these milestones likely represented what it’d take for the Nittany Lions to have a successful season.

Pick up meaningful road victories in the Big Ten. Ascend into the upper half of the conference. Go beyond the NIT and get into the big dance.

Penn State’s accomplished the first two and is trending the right way for the third.

So, the Nittany Lions are on the right trajectory, and Stevens has played a big-time role in positioning the team to play meaningful basketball in late March, something this fan base has been craving since the team’s last NCAA Tournament appearance nearly a decade ago.

Deliver that, and fans will rightly celebrate Stevens for a long time into the future.

However, that might not be where Stevens’ true legacy lies. Or at the very least, those achievements don’t tell the entire story.

The Nittany Lions are on the road for their next two contests, and then return to the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday, Feb. 8, for a game against Minnesota.

The BJC should have a festive vibe, as the team has partnered with Special Olympics and LifeLink for what’s being hailed as “Everyone is Awesome Day.”

The first 1,000 fans will receive a Stevens T-shirt jersey, and the star forward has authored a children’s book, with illustrations contributed by kids with Down syndrome whom he’s met through the team’s community outreach efforts. Copies will be available, and Stevens will have a postgame book signing.

It’s the latest example of Stevens showing how he understands the platform he has, and the impact he can have — especially beyond the court.

From Coaches Vs. Cancer to the annual Buddy Walk, which raises funds and celebrates individuals with Down syndrome, Stevens has become a mainstay in the community.

Sure, he’s a star basketball player; and understandably, that’s how many fans will remember him. But it’s not what defines Stevens as a person.

“Lamar is an incredible ambassador for this university and this athletic department, he’s always giving back,” Chambers said. “I think he recognizes how blessed he is, and he doesn’t take anything for granted. He’s incredibly grateful for being in this position, and he’s always doing something for charities.

“He wants to give back, especially to children. I think that speaks volumes about his character, and how he’s wired, and how he’s made.”

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