James Harden at the Palestra

With Penn-Princeton imminent, James Harden of the Houston Rockets stopped by the Palestra earlier today. Penn assistant coach Jason Polykoff posted a photo to his Twitter account earlier today showing Harden posing with the men's basketball team.

"Special visit today from Houston Rocket James Harden. Helping provide some motivation for our @ The Palestra," Polykoff also wrote on Twitter.

Of course, the connection with Harden is Penn assistant coach Scott Pera, who coached and mentored Harden at southern California powerhouse Artesia High School and Arizona State.



This Week on 33rd Street: Nov. 9, Part I

The 2012-13 Penn basketball season is finally upon us! Friday night, Penn opens for the second straight year against UMBC (see preview), but missing will be familiar faces like Zack Rosen, Tyler Bernardini and Rob Belcore, in addition to a completely revamped coaching staff. How will the Quakers handle the change? Senior Sports Ed. Megan Soisson sits down with her co-editors Alyssa Kress and Mike Tony to discuss what awaits Penn over the weekend and the winter:

Scott Pera of ASU to become top assistant for Penn basketball

via ASU.edu

Arizona State assistant coach Scott Pera is slated to leave the Sun Devils and take an assistant coaching position under Penn basketball coach Jerome Allen, ASUDevils.com reports.

Pera served as an assistant under ASU head man Herb Sendek since the summer of 2007, helping guide the Sun Devils to three postseason appearances — one in the NCAA tournament and two in the NIT. He will replace the departed Dan Leibovitz, who officially resigned from his position Thursday to join the Charlotte Bobcats as a player development coach.

"The initial involvement was through a mutual friend with coach Allen and I," Pera told ASUDevils.com. "Basically, it was, 'hey, this seems to me to make tremendous sense,' it intrigued me from there, Jerome did his homework on me, then connections come into play, people that know me and know Jerome connected the dots, we talked through it, had a lot in common, I became more interested and it led to us coming to an agreement."

Prior to his stint at Arizona State, Pera led Artesia High School of Lakewood, Calif. to the state title in 2006. There, he coached Oklahoma City Thunder star James Harden. Pera would again coach Harden with the Sun Devils from 2007-09.

The move east brings Pera, a Hershey, Pa. native and Penn State graduate, closer to home. His wife, Alyssa, is also a Penn graduate.

"A number of pieces are in place at Penn that make it attractive, with the head coaching placement being big and something we're very aware of," Pera said. "To be one step closer to that and my wife's alma mater, and be under another terrific coach in a city we love, all those pieces made it come together."

Pera is the third new assistant the Quakers have added this summer. Ira Bowman and Jason Polykoff have already been hired to take the places of Mike Martin and Rudy Wise, respectively.