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The men's basketball team huddle before a game at the Palestra. 

Credit: Chase Sutton

With the departure of several key seniors, including program legend AJ Brodeur who is now playing professionally in Germany, Penn Basketball’s latest batch of recruits will have big shoes to fill.

On July 15, the Quakers announced four recent high school graduates would be joining their team, which is down one from five the year before.

"I am excited about these four," said coach Steve Donahue. "We obviously lost a lot with the graduation of three All-Ivy players in May, but the talent level among this freshman group is really high and I look forward to getting them into the mix right away.

Clark Slajchert, a 6-foot-1 guard from Thousand Oaks, California starts off the class for the Quakers. A four-year letter winner at Oak Hill High School, Slajchert led the state of California in scoring during his senior year and was subsequently named Canyon Coast League Player of the Year. Slajchert will bring a sibling rivalry to Penn as his brother Wes plays guard for Dartmouth. 

Another guard, 6-foot-0 Colin Chambers from nearby Episcopal Academy, is the next member of the class. Chambers, a four-year letter winner and team captain in his senior year, also has Ivy League ties, but his are closer to home.

Chambers’ father Paul was an All-Ivy basketball player at Penn and remains among the program leaders in assists and steals. His uncle Tim Chambers played defensive back for the Quakers and was the 1984 Ivy League Player of the Year. His sports bloodlines don’t end in the Ivy League; another uncle, Pat Chambers, has been the head basketball coach at Penn State since 2011. 

Rounding out the class for the Quakers are two more guards, Matteus Case and Andrew Laczkowski, who will both add height to the team at 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively. 

Case is a Toronto native and was selected to play in the Signature All-Canadian Game before it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Laczkowski hails from Dallas and was a two-time team MVP at St. Mark’s School. He helped his AAU team win the Adidas Gauntlet in 2020 with a 30-2 record. 

The Quakers opted to focus on their backcourt with this recruiting cycle as all of the recruits are listed as guards on the team’s website. 

With the departure of three regular starters in Brodeur, and guards Ryan Betley and Devon Goodman, this new batch will certainly have a chance to make an immediate impact. Four of the five recruits in last year’s class saw meaningful playing time in their freshman season, and Jordan Dingle and Max Martz both started over half of Penn’s games. 

The real question is not if these incoming players will make an impact, but when. With Penn scrapping its hybrid plans and the status of the upcoming college basketball season completely up in the air, it may be a while before these Quakers are able to play their first games in the Palestra.

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