After finishing 6th in the ACC last year and coming up short of the NCAA tournament, the Seminoles look to bounce back this year. Led by coach Leonard Hamilton the team will try to implement new faces and also give certain returning players bigger roles on the court. Coach Hamilton and the Seminoles have a couple big games on their schedule this year, facing off against 4 ranked teams, including #7 Florida, #6 NC State, #4 Duke and #8 Louisville. In each of the past 6 years the men’s team have managed to finish above .500, and based partially on their vigorous schedule they have been projected to finish 9th in the ACC this year.
The Seminoles have brought in a four star recruit out of Fayettville, GA named Phil Cofer. He’s a very athletic forward, standing 6,8 205 pounds, who can get to the glass both offensively and defensively using his great size and strength. Coming out of high school this past spring he was ranked no.56 overall in the country. Cofer is an aggressive athlete around the rim and according to recruiters his best asset is his ability to grab rebounds. Look for the freshman to see extensive playing time this year, as the team lost Okaro White and Robert Gilchrist, two seniors who graduated last season.
The Noles also picked up Robbie Berwick from Atasradero, California. Berwick is 6’4, 188 lbs, and has great passing skills and an excellent basketball IQ. He brings long range shooting ability and athleticism to the team. Berwick also played football in high school and was the team’s quarterback; those leadership qualities will transcend onto the court for this very intelligent player.
In regards to returning players, the team has quite a few players that could be have huge impacts this season. Redshirt freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes will join the rotation this year and see an increase in his game time. He’s considered to be one of the most complete shooting guards coming out of high school in 2013 and will now get his opportunity to shine after having sat out a year in hopes of learning the system. Coach Hamilton believes that the 6’4, 190 pound guard will fit in perfectly with FSU’s system as a wing scorer and says he also has the ability to create matchup problems for defenders because of his athleticism.
Another instrumental player to keep an eye on this season is sophomore Jarquez Smith, who saw reserved time last year due to two seniors ahead of him on the depth chart. He also suffered dealing with the mental side of the game last year, mentioning to the coaching staff that during big games the atmosphere of college basketball was enough to affect his game. This summer he spent extra time working with the staff to learn the system better, hone in on his skills and mentally prepare for a bigger role. His rare mixture of speed and power make him a dangerous threat and give him an optimistic future. In the first game of the season against Embry Riddle on November 3rd he knocked down 6/8 of his field goals, had 2 rebounds and an assist to help lead the Noles win 95-73.
Most talk and speculation, however, has been around junior guard Aaron Thomas. He is projected to possibly be an All-American, All ACC and ACC player of the year. Last season he led the Seminoles in scoring as a sophomore, averaging 14.5 points per game and 4 rebounds. He has an incredible jump shot that he can get off quickly, and will be a key factor if the Seminoles are looking to make noise in the ACC this year.
Another returning player to watch is center Boris Bojanovsky; the junior is 7’3 240 pounds and has evolved into a solid defender. He’ll be playing behind Kiel Turpin, but is quickly learning the game. On the defensive side of the ball he is a great shot blocker – last season he blocked 67 shots in total.
The men’s basketball season is under way and they need all the support and noise they can get from their fans. Home games are held at the Donald Tucker civic center and you can catch their next set of games coming up soon. The Seminoles beat Manhattan, who made it to the NCAA tournament last year, in their season opener on Saturday, November 15th. The next home game is on November 18th at 7:00pm against Northeastern.
by CHRISTOPHER THAMES / contributing editor