While announcing his decision to leave the Binghamton men’s basketball program on March 11, standout sophomore guard Sam Sessoms said he intended to transfer to a power conference team. A few weeks later, he did just that, announcing on his social media accounts Monday evening that he will be transferring to Penn State.
After two illustrious seasons as a Bearcat, Sessoms, a West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native, proclaimed in a video posted to his social media accounts that he defied his doubters by verbally committing to a Big Ten basketball program in his home state.
“I’ve been overlooked, counted out, doubted before I had my chance,” Sessoms said. “I had to learn how to face adversity, overcome poverty, fight for my own, be a dog. That all started here, [in] West Philadelphia. They said I couldn’t compete against the best — did that. They said I couldn’t score 1,000 points — did that twice. I bet they didn’t think I could do this, but I did that too. And next year, I’ll be attending Penn State University.”
Just two weeks ago, Sessoms was ranked the eighth best sit-out transfer available in the country by ESPN, one of just two players formerly of mid-major teams ranked in the top 10. He led the America East (AE) in scoring last season, averaging 19.4 points per game, and won AE Rookie of the Year as a freshman. Sessoms was named second team all-conference as a sophomore. He also has recorded the three highest-scoring single-game performances in BU’s Division I era, including a 38-point showing in the team’s season-ending loss to New Hampshire, the second-highest of his career in what was his final game as a Bearcat.
Despite Sessoms’s personal accolades, the team around him struggled under Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey. Six players transferred prior to last season, and the team fell to last place in the AE, missing the conference tournament for the second time in three years.
Because of NCAA regulations, Sessoms will likely be required to redshirt the 2020-21 season, playing out the remaining two years of his eligibility starting in 2021. The NCAA is expected to vote soon on whether to allow one-time transfers without the redshirt year, but it’s currently unclear when that vote will occur or when results from the vote could take effect. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the vote may not happen until the summer, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.
While Penn State has historically been known more as a football school than a basketball school, the men’s basketball program has been on the rise recently. Led by ninth-year head coach Pat Chambers, the Nittany Lions finished last season with a 21-10 record, 11-9 in Big Ten play and were expected to receive an at-large bid to the 2020 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. The team was ultimately unable to compete at its conference tournament or in March Madness because of cancellations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn State last reached the NCAA tournament in 2011.