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ACC Preview #13 - Florida State

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Despite heavy losses, the ‘Noles should roll again

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Xavier vs Florida State
Mar 18, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton reacts during the first half against the Xavier Musketeers in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at Bridgestone Arena. 
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State had a solid season last year, finishing 23-11 before bowing out to Michigan in the Elite Eight.

In a way the game summed up FSU basketball as well as anything could: down four with 11 seconds with a really talented roster, Leonard Hamilton baffled everyone by no longer trying to win.

It would’ve baffled Dean Smith, who had the famous eight points in sixteen second game against Duke among dozens of other comebacks, or Mike Krzyzewski, who saw his Duke team come back from 10 down in the last minute to beat Maryland and who had a late 17 point rally in Elton Brand’s freshman year to beat UNC.

When Dana Jacobson asked him about it though, Hamilton seemed genuinely baffled. He asked her what she was talking about and when she clarified, Hamilton gave her a disbelieving look and said “that game was over.”

No one else believed it but he’s the coach and it’s his team so that was that. After a few days of disbelief, the controversy settled down but it still marred the end of a fine season.

The ‘Noles lose Jonathan Isaac, Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes from that team and promising big man Ike Obiagu is now at Seton Hall. He showed some great flashes in Tallahassee but didn’t stick around. CJ Walker is off to Ohio State for his last two years.

So the only starter back is Terrence Mann, who averaged 12.6 ppg.

Fear not though, Seminole faithful. Six-foot-eight senior Phil Cofer may not have started every game but he got starter minutes at 29.3 mpg and averaged 12.8 ppg and 5.1 rpg.

Anthony Polite had to sit out his freshman year due to injuries but the 6-6 wing is back and ready to go. He was highly regarded as a recruit so he should help.

PJ Savoy, a 6-4 senior, averaged just 6.7 ppg but had some explosive runs last year. And 7-4 Christ Koumadje is also back, fulfilling Hamilton’s desire to have a big and mostly useless guy to stick around the basket and Koumadje, who is not as stiff as some of his predecessors, can at a minimum block shots and grab rebounds. He came to FSU very thin but now, by the way, is close to 270.

If he doesn't start it’ll be Mfiondu Kabengele, a 6-10 250 lb. sophomore. He’s more athletic and mobile than Koumadje but we expect Kamoudje will retain his spot because Hamilton’s expectations of his big men are limited (which may explain Obiagu’s departure).

Trent Forrest is also back as is MJ Walker. Both are 6-5. Forrest (7.9 ppg/4.9 rpg) is a junior while Walker (7.0 ppg/1.7 rpg) is a sophomore. Forrest can play point and Walker was a highly regarded recruit who could potentially step up after a less than stellar freshman outing.

Senior David Nichols will get some time at PG too. The 6-1 Albany transfer is experienced and reliable. He’ll help.

Wyatt Wilkes, Devin Vassell and Raquian Gray round out the apparent reserves.

Wilkes is a 6-8 sophomore who was limited by injuries last season. Gray is a 6-8, 260 lb. refrigerator who was put on ice last season in order to adjust to college. We’ll see how both guys pan out this year.

Vassell is the only true freshman on the team. A 6-6 Georgian, like a lot of Hamilton’s recruits he’s athletic and versatile. He also has a penchant for rebounding.

So despite the significant losses, Hamilton has plenty to throw at opponents. Florida State is athletic and versatile and deep - just the way he likes his teams.

There won’t be as much slippage as you might expect.

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