Malik Osborne: “I know I’ll be able to play with the best.”

Twitter/ @OsborneMalik

Florida State Basketball didn’t expect to have this kind of offseason. After an Elite-Eight appearance with only two seniors on the roster, the Seminoles were expecting to make another run as their young talent developed.

Instead, sophomore point guard CJ Walker and freshman center Ikey Obiagu each elected to transfer from the university. Walker ended up at Ohio State while Obiagu selected Seton Hall.

The departures of two key players sent FSU’s coaches into a frenzy to replace them. The staff was able to secure a commitment from Albany grad-transfer David Nichols shortly after Walker headed to Columbus.

The `Noles began to show heavy interest in big men on the recruiting trail and in the transfer market following Obiagu’s transfer. The top target was Rice transfer Malik Osborne. Osborne averaged nine points and 6.5 rebounds during his freshman season with the Owls.

The 6-foot-8, 200-pound forward considered Wisconsin, San Diego State, and Virginia Tech before deciding on Florida State. Tallahassee was the final stop on his tour of visits and the Seminoles impressed Osborne enough that he decided to commit.

Despite being unranked as a high school prospect, Osborne fills a major need for FSU after proving his skills at the collegiate level. He’s a multi-positional player who can stretch the floor from deep and handle the ball. Osborne attended Don Bosco Prep, the same school that Mfiondu Kabengele attended, and believes he can follow along the same path that the rising redshirt sophomore forward did two years ago.

Kabengele redshirted as an incoming freshman and spent the year developing his body and basketball abilities. Osborne is looking to do just that. He believes FSU’s proven development of players will help boost his game to where it needs to be.

Looking ahead to 2019, the `Noles will graduate both Phil Cofer and Christ Koumadje. Kabengele could also be a projected selection in the NBA Draft depending on the kind of season he has. That could open the door for Osborne to be a major contributor.

For now, the Crown Point native will need to continue working on how he handles the ball and getting his deep shot more consistent. Osborne prides himself on defense and that always bodes well at Florida State.

Check out our full interview with FSU Basketball’s latest commit below.

NoleGameday: Why did you decide to commit so quickly after your visit to Florida State?

Malik Osborne: “After the Wisconsin visit, it really set the bar high with what I’m really looking for. Wisconsin seemed like everyone was moving really fast. I kinda always knew where my top schools were at. Obviously, a visit could make or break things for me. I went to Florida State not really expecting anything. Then coach Hamilton and coach Gates, the staff, were just really genuine, nothing superficial, nothing crazy. And just meeting the guys was also great. I already knew Mfiondu. I also had family ties there, both my uncles went there too so I knew I would have that home feeling. And I was able to get it from the school too, I can have a home feeling on and off campus. Getting to know coach Hamilton a little more as far as his thoughts, how I fit in the offense, and if he sees in me what I see in myself. Leading up to coach Hamilton’s house at the end, just getting some dinner and chilling with the team, just able to really bond with the team. If everything is there and you feel it in your heart, why wait?”

NoleGameday: How did the coaches and players react when you decided to commit?

Osborne: “I wasn’t around the players but I was with the coaches. It actually was at our last dinner on the itinerary. We were at the table and just talking, getting to know the coaches more. Everything was feeling right, my dad asked me my thoughts on the visit and the coaches wanted to know if they were doing a good job. At that point, I was like everything’s pretty much checked off and when I told them I would like to be a Seminole they were happy, I was happy, and my family was happy. We went to a skill workout literally right after that and I got to dap up the team, they were happy. It felt like family after I committed and even before. I can’t wait to go up there and get to work.”

NoleGameday: What set the `Noles apart from the other schools who were recruiting you?

Osborne: “They really just let me do everything at my own pace. They didn’t rush me, they didn’t pressure me, they weren’t nagging me all times through the day. The coaches understand the process from an athletes decision. They definitely understand the stress it goes through being recruited, especially the second time. They said their piece and let me know what they had to offer and then they left it up to me. I think that’s the best thing because if someone preaches family, they’re gonna treat you like family, and let you go through everything the way you want to do it.”

NoleGameday: What was the most fun part of your visit?

Osborne: “It was definitely hanging out with the guys, watching the eastern and western conference finals game. There was a lot of emotion there, a lot of arguments, and yelling. We’re all just a few people who like to watch the sport and yelling at the differences. That was probably the most fun I had.”

NoleGameday: Was there anything that surprised you or that you learned about FSU over the weekend?

Osborne: “The accessibility that the players have to all facilities at pretty much anytime was pretty good. Some schools have it open to midnight or whatever. And the players can pretty much go anywhere, any time of the day. And where they were staying at. The way that coach Hamilton treats the players, he gives them top priority even over themself. For coach to be that caring of his players and treating them like family, putting them ahead of himself was very surprising and great to see.”

NoleGameday: What did the coaches focus on in their presentation to you?

Osborne: “The focus of the visit was pretty much to show me that they can develop me into the player that I can be and that I want to be. They showed me a history of them sending guys with my skill type and body type to the league. They’ve shown that they’ve had people that weren’t as gifted as me and they still were able to send them to a place to make money and playing the sport they love as well. The focus there was just development, they said we can make you into the player you want to be. That was pretty much all I was trying to hear was how they can develop me. I know I’m not that there yet but I can be. And the fact that they saw that too really set it off.”

NoleGameday: Did the coaches clarify what position you’ll be playing?

Osborne: “They said I would definitely be playing more perimeter-ball. Coach Hamilton has a history of recruiting seven footers so I know that my play inside the paint will be as minimal as possible. As far as postgame, that would be on rare occasions. They told me you’re definitely gonna be more on the perimeter and you’re going to be a perimeter player.”

NoleGameday: What was it like getting to meet some of the players on the team for the first team?

Osborne: “It was definitely interesting. Sometimes you have the perceptions of big time players and you don’t really know if they’re gonna be generous or arrogant. I knew Mfiondu so that was who I was sticking to most of the time since I know the type of person he is. And so he was showing me the players, introducing me, and everyone was selfless, everyone was pretty much brothers, humble, and always together. That was the amazing thing about it. That you can be such a high-level team and gel so well. Everyone had a great personality, nice, generous. They’re great players as well so that was like the perfect teammates right there.”

NoleGameday: When will you be officially enrolling at Florida State?

Osborne: “I’m supposed to be going down there the ninth to get ready for summer school that starts June 25.”

NoleGameday: How tough is it on you to have to sit out a season before getting to take the court with this team?

Osborne: “Oh man, it’s gotta be one of the more challenging things I’ve done in my life. Playing the sport so long and making the transition you want to play right away. It’s tough, it’s challenging but it’s also a learning experience that shows my discpline, who I am without basketball, and just character wise am I responsible enough, am I going to make good decisions. So even sitting out I know it’s a teaching experience. And I know I’ll be able to play with the best, you got Cofer, Trent, Koumadje, MJ, Terance. You got all those good guys and potentially league guys and you’re going up against them everyday. I feel like that’s good for me because I’ll be growing as a player and also a man. So even though I’m sitting out I know it’s probably the best thing for me.”

NoleGameday: Do you have any favorites for the number you want to wear?

Osborne: “I wanted to keep 13 for as long as possible. I know that Anthony [Polite] is rocking 13 so I’m gonna do some negotiating with him to see what I gotta do to get the number. If he dosen’t budge, obviously he was there first so I can’t get too bad. The player makes the number so I’ll be fine with the outcome.”

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