NoleGameday

Where to go from here: Florida State Basketball

It’s been just over four weeks since Florida State was blown out by Xavier in the NCAA Tournament. Dwayne Bacon, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and Jonathan Isaac all declared for the NBA draft less than a week later. The Noles will also lose seniors Michael Ojo and Jarquez Smith to graduation.

This leaves the FSU basketball program in quite the predicament. Who will replace the valuable skills that the departing players brought to the team?

The Seminoles currently have four players signed and one player committed in the 2017 recruiting class. This has them ranked as the number 15 class in the nation by Rivals. They also are still in the running for Kevin Knox Jr. and MJ Walker, but the Noles would need a player to transfer to fit them in.

The signees are RaiQuan Gray, Wyatt Wilkes, Anthony Polite and Bryan Trimble Jr. Top-100 recruit and Nike Hoop Summit selectee Ikey Obiagu is set to sign with FSU in late April. He’ll instantly be a rim-protecting presence at the next level. Obiagu is averaging 8.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.2 blocks per game at Greenforest Mccalep Christian Academy.

Gray has been compared to Draymond Green and impacts the game with a bit of everything. He’ll be in the mix for a starting forward spot after Isaac’s departure. Wilkes is a big-time shooter who will have a role if he can defend at the next level. Polite was named small-schools basketball player of the year after averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists per game. Trimble was the first commit of the class and projects as a high-upside guard.

Unless a player transfers, the Noles will return eight players. The problem? They return no true star. XRM, Bacon, Isaac, and Malik Beasley have been Florida State’s version of stars over the last three seasons. Now, it’s time for someone else to break through.

Terance Mann may be the most likely player to reach that level next season, but he’ll have to develop an outside shot. His inability to score efficiently from outside the paint forces him to be a non-contributor on offense at times. Trent Forrest is another guard on the team who provides a little bit of everything, but he too struggles with his shot. The Seminoles could have phenomenal guard play on offense if these two develop more consistent jumpers over the offseason.

Other names like CJ Walker, Braian Angola-Rodas, and PJ Savoy have chances to shine with their offensive prowess. All three showed positive signs during their first year as Seminoles. Walker will have to continue improving his shot, shot selection, and ability to run the offense. BAR will have to learn how to take on a bigger role and Savoy needs to work on his defense and shot selection. These three will have a big impact on FSU’s success next year, they need to continue to grow and develop.

Phil Cofer returns in the frontcourt. Cofer has had an up and down career at FSU and hasn’t been able to find his rhythm since suffering a season-ending foot injury during his sophomore season. Redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele will make his college debut at some point during the season, he averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds during his senior season of high school. Kabengele is also the nephew of Dikembe Mutombo

Christ Koumadje and Obiagu will likely fight for the starting center role. Koumadje showed progress from his freshman to sophomore season but he’ll need to continue to put on weight and muscle. He needs to work on his free throw shooting and boxing out but shows good prowess as a defender. Koumadje does need to work on his shot contesting, he always goes for the block and offensive players use this to draw him into easy fouls.

Leonard Hamilton and his staff are going to have quite the offseason. The adjusting roles will be interesting and it’ll be even more exciting to see which of these players have it in them to step into a bigger role. Either way, Florida State returns talent and experience, they’ll be in contention for another bid to the NCAA Tournament if they make the necessary improvements.

 

Dustin Lewis
Lead writer for NoleGameday. Majoring in English Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. Writer for FSView Sports and Hashtag Basketball.

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