After four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Florida State finished just 18-16 a season ago and were bounced from the first round of the NIT. The Seminoles have a number of new faces in the lineup after some key subtractions during the offseason. Florida State not only lost senior and leading scorer Michael Snaer, but the transfers of forward Terrance Shannon and guard Terry Whisnant in addition to the suspension of Xavier Rathan-Mayes will leave FSU very thin in terms of depth this upcoming season.
The veteran of the group in the backcourt for Florida State is senior Ian Miller. Miller has battled through injury and academic issues throughout his career, but has at times shown signs of being a very good player. After averaging better than 10 points-per-game as a sophomore, Miller saw his scoring numbers nearly cut in half a season ago as Miller averaged just 5.3 points-per-game. Miller also struggled shooting the ball last season finishing with career-low shooting percentages from the field, the foul line and from beyond the arc. Miller can play either of the two guard positions and the Seminoles will certainly need his versatility and leadership this season.
Along with Miller will be a trio of sophomores. Montay Brandon, who began last season as the team’s starting point guard, is more of a slasher and should provide the Seminoles with some much-needed athleticism. Devon Bookert is more of a true point guard and really came on strong toward the end of last year. Bookert will need to cut down on the turnovers, but has an excellent shooting stroke as he shot 53 percent from behind the three-point line last season and 82 percent from the charity stripe. Florida State will be hoping for significant improvement from Aaron Thomas, who can really score the basketball. At 6’5″, Thomas averaged six points-per-game as a freshman.
With Snaer now graduated, Florida State is now Okaro White’s team. White was the only Seminole aside from Snaer to average in double-figures scoring last season as White scored 12.4 points-per-game in addition to grabbing a team-high 5.9 rebounds. White can play either inside or out and shot 51 percent from the field a season ago. White will likely spend the majority of his minutes at small forward this season although he has been more comfortable at the power forward position throughout most of his FSU career.
Senior and junior college transfer Robert Gilchrist will also see more of the floor this season. Gilchrist got stronger as the season went on last year and provides the Seminoles with good athleticism. Gilchrist will be joined by a pair of freshmen in Jarquez Smith and Brandon Allen.
Florida State is hoping that one of its strengths this season will be its size although it was not the case last season despite having three seven-footers in the rotation. Kiel Turpin, now a senior, came on strong during the latter parts of last season finishing with 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds-per-game while shooting 51 percent from the floor. Behind Turpin will be a pair of sophomores in Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo. Bojanovsky, who is the tallest player ever to play for Florida State at 7’3″, has good touch, but would be best served to add strength. Ojo, a Nigerian native, provides a big body, but is still relatively raw from a basketball standpoint.
Leonard Hamilton will be entering his 12th season as Florida State’s head basketball coach. Hamilton has led the Seminoles to a winning record in nine of his 11 seasons in Tallahassee. Hamilton has taken the Seminoles to four NCAA Tournament appearances, six 20-win seasons and two years ago, the school’s only ACC title. Hamilton is the second longest tenured coach in the ACC behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and has twice been named ACC Coach of the Year. Hamilton enters the year with a record of 219-143 at Florida State.
Little is expected from Florida State this season, but despite lacking in depth and experience, the Seminoles are a talented group. To reach the NCAA Tournament, Florida State will need a big season from Okaro White and significant improvement from its three sophomore guards. The Seminoles will also need to use their size to their advantage and not get outworked on the glass as they did so often a season ago. In conference, Florida State will face North Carolina and Duke each just once, but the non-conference schedule will have its difficulties. With three of Florida State’s first six games coming against Virginia Commonwealth, Florida and Minnesota, it won’t be long until we find out how good the Seminoles are.