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10 Weeks From Basketball Season: A Look Into #10 Malik Osborne

We are officially 10 weeks from Florida State taking the hardwood for the first time in the 2019-20 season, a conference matchup against Pittsburgh. With that, let’s take a look into who is wearing #10 for the Seminoles this season, Malik Osborne. Osborne may be an unknown to the average fan, as he transferred in from Rice before the 2018-19 season and spent the year redshirting and running with the scout team, the Green Vipers. With the team losing Phil Cofer, Terance Mann, Mfiondu Kabengele, and Christ Koumadje, there are openings at the power forward and center positions this season, and Osborne can help fill that void.

Bio

Osborne is a 6’9″, 215 -pound redshirt-sophomore from Matteson, Illinois. He comes from a family of athletes, as his father played football at Iowa State and his mother ran track at Lewis College. During his redshirt season at FSU, he made the All-ACC Academic Honor Roll and added 25 pounds of muscle to his frame. In his one season of playing at Rice, Osborne averaged 9.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.8 blocks, and 0.6 steals. He shot 41.4% from the floor, 50.4% from 2, 26.5% from 3, and 64.3% from the free-throw line while starting 27 of the 31 games he played in. On a bad Rice team, Osborne was 4th on the team in free throw rate (.518), and 2nd on the team in win shares (1.5), rebounding rate (13.1), and block percentage (3.2). Osborne also spent a year at Bosco Institute, the same prep school Mfiondu Kabengele attended.

Strengths

Length and Athleticism

Watching some highlights of his film, his athleticism jumps off the screen. Saying he is bouncy is almost an understatement. This kind of athleticism is something Coach Hamilton loves having in his players. With the offensive and defensive systems FSU has, guys that are going to give good energy and have the length to get into passing lanes and bother shots will gain Hamilton’s favor quickly. There is no listed wingspan for Osborne, but pictures don’t do his length justice.

Getting to the Free Throw Line

As pointed out in his bio, Osborne had a Free Throw Rate of .518. Free Throw Rate (FTR) is how many free throws are taken per field goal attempt, so in his case for every free throw attempt he had, he attempted two field goals. To put this in comparison, Trent Forrest and Mfiondu Kabengele had free throw rates of .569 and .550 respectively and led the ‘Noles in FTR this past season. Hamilton’s system places a heavy emphasis on getting to the free-throw line; FSU averaged just over 21 FT attempts per game, good for 4th in the conference. That number likely still isn’t where Hamilton would want it. Getting to the charity stripe helps the players get easy points and get a quick breather from playing heavy help defense, and the coaches can also tell the non-shooter what play to run or what defense to be set in. If Osborne can keep this free throw rate up while expanding other aspects of his game, he is going to see his role increase throughout the season.

Rebounding

FSU is losing its top three rebounders and 60.7% of rebounds overall from last year’s team. Having a guy like Osborne who can bring in tough rebounds with his athleticism is going to be vital to this team’s success. Osborne posted a rebounding rate of 13.1% his lone season at Rice, meaning he grabbed 13.1% of all available rebounds while he was on the floor. Again for comparison, Christ Koumadje posted a massive 20.6% last season, and Kabengele grabbed 15.8%. Osborne keeping his rebounding rate around the same means he would’ve been the third most effective rebounder last season. He has the athleticism and timing to run as a small-ball center and still be able to grab rebounds, something that I think would create a lineup (Forrest, MJ Walker, Devin Vassell, Patrick Williams, Osborne) that can suffocate opposing offenses, and space the floor for Forrest to attack the paint and kick out to any great shooter. If Osborne is willing to run the center again for a few minutes, the matchups could be incredible.

Weaknesses

Shooting

As evidenced in his lone season at Rice, shooting was not his biggest specialty, shooting a low 26.5% from deep on 2.7 attempts per game. He came to Florida State to play more on the perimeter and that starts with a better jump shot. The coaches worked with him throughout the year to tweak his shot, fix his release, and get his percentage up. If he can shoot around 32% from the 3-point line, that would be a massive success. His free throw percentage wasn’t great either; 64.3% on about 4 attempts per game. If this can bump up into the 70-72% range it would be huge for the success of the offense and himself. He has the work ethic and the talent to do it, but the ability to translate it from practice to games will be telling.

Experience

It’s no secret Hamilton prefers to play veteran players. Guys who have been in the system longer will have more trust from Hamilton. He prefers seeing the Basketball IQ on display in a game, not just in practice. Osborne has yet to play in an FSU jersey and only suited up in 31 games for a team that won 7 games and played a total of two power-conference opponents, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. This season starts with games against an improving Pittsburgh team and a stacked Florida squad, both on the road. Road games in the ACC are no joke, as we’ve seen in previous years. Can he handle going from crowds of a couple thousand to ten thousand and above? Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t get as many minutes to start the season, then his role starts expanding throughout the weaker portion of the non-conference schedule, much like we saw with Devin Vassell last season.

Expectations

Expecting too much out of the gate would be a mistake. The way Hamilton uses his rotations, Osborne will probably see 12-15 minutes to start the season and closer to 18-20 by the end, if he keeps improving. He won’t be asked to score much, and many of his contributions will be on the defensive end. He reminds me of a young Phil Cofer, just a little lankier and not as stocky. The jump shot is still a work-in-progress, but the athleticism and passion for the game are there. If he follows Cofer’s progression and can keep improving that jumper, he can turn into a very good player for the ‘Noles. A stat-line of around 6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal and a shooting split of 45/30/70, would be a reasonable expectation for Malik Osborne.


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