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ACC Preview # 8 - FSU

One of the very real concerns about expansion has been its effect on basketball. It's taken Florida State a while to come anywhere near being competent in this conference, but they are about to turn the corner in basketball, and in a big way.

Under Leonard Hamilton, FSU has really started to play defense, which is pretty much his signature as a coach, and his other signature is being able to corral a lot of talent, which he is doing at an amazing clip (Side note: FSU, Florida, and Miami are all known as football schools, and justifiably so. Miami is possibly lagging somewhat behind, but on the other hand, they have been to the tournament a few times recently, so it's relative).

Hamilton has added Diego Romero, Von Wafer, Al Thornton, and Alexander Johnson, all of whom can play, and has put together a monster class for next year. But we don't think they're going to wait til next year to make a move.

The future, as they used to say in D.C., is now.

Florida State wasn't that far off last year, and they had a nice core with Michael Joiner, Tim Pickett, Anthony Richardson, Todd Galloway, Nate Johnson, and Adam Waleskowski.

With Galloway, Pickett, Johnson, and Wafer, the 'Noles have a really solid backcourt rotation, probably as talented as any in the conference, and that's saying something, given what Duke, UNC, and Wake have, not to mention Tech and Maryland. Pickett is where the conversation starts, as he had a real impact in the conference, but we also really liked Galloway last year, though he was hit-and-miss. Nate Johnson was useful, though not necessarily great, and Von Wafer came out of nowhere to really establish himself as an elite high school talent. On a humorous note, FSU managed to work the name LeBron into his bio quite a bit.

Anthony Richardson is a kid who has been one of their few ACC-level talents. He averaged 12.4 ppg, and the upgrade in talent should really help him immensely, since he can't be the main focus, or even necessarily the secondary focus.

Michael Joiner has had a solid career at FSU, but he could be one of the guys who is pushed aside.But it's entirely possible that he could have a great role as a super reserve.

Up front, Adam Waleskowski has not had a monster career so far at FSU, but he hasn't sucked eggs, either. We're guessing he's a Hamilton favorite though, because he can bring a lot of intensity to a game. At 6-8 and 240, he brings some beef to the table.

Mike Matthews is another guy who may step back in the face of new talent. He has played some, but never been a huge force or anything.

FSU can now bring Al Thornton, Alexander Johnson, and Diego Romero to the mix down low. Johnson, who was originally set to go to Georgia before the latest Harrick scandal, could be a real force for FSU down low. At 6-10 and 250, he's a load. He also loves to work down low, unlike a lot of big men. Physically, he gives them someone to go up against the Shelden Williams, Eric Williams, Sean Mays, and Elton Browns of the conference. Thornton, who at 6 -7 has spent some time at point guard, could team with Joiner (if Joiner doesn't start) to bring impressive versatility off the bench.

Romero gives them a potential high-post player to match with Johnson and Waleskowski down low. An native of Argentina, he, along with N.C. State's Adam Simons, is another big man who shoots well outside.

The talent at Florida State is tremendously improved from Steve Robinson's program. The defense, we think, is a given. Now, the questions are how well they can put the ball in the basket, rebounding, and incorporating new talent without alienating old players.

Our guess is they make the move this year. But even if they don't, there is another boatload of talent on the way. FSU will be able to compete with the rest of the conference and also Florida, which is great news for everyone, since the game will develop faster. A lot of the elite athletes in Florida just default into football. With at least two powerhouse programs in the state, more kids will be dribbling. And that's great.