Florida State made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years, but whether the Seminoles (26-9) can return next season will depend on the decisions of their three leading scorers.
Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac and Xavier Rathan-Mayes said after Saturday’s 91-66 loss to Xavier in the second round that they had not reached a decision and had no timetable. All three though are expected to put their names into consideration for the NBA draft.
Isaac, a 6-foot-10 freshman forward, averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds. He is the most likely of the trio not to return as many have projected him to be a lottery pick.
Bacon was the team’s leading scorer for the second straight season, averaging 17.2 points. The 6-7 sophomore guard worked on his shooting during the offseason last year and has developed a better range of shots instead of merely attacking the rim. Draft projections have him anywhere from a late first- to second-round pick.
Rathan-Mayes has developed into a solid point guard. The 6-4 junior led the Atlantic Coast Conference in assist/turnover ratio while averaging 10.6 points. He could return for his senior season to improve his draft chances.
If all three depart, sophomore Terance Mann would be the leading returning scorer (8.4 points). Even with Bacon and Isaac, coach Leonard Hamilton extolled his team’s depth throughout the year as he used 12 players per game. Freshmen guards Trent Forrest and CJ Walker each averaged over 12 minutes per game and will be counted on more next season.
Florida State was the second tallest team in Division I but lose two 7-footers with the graduations of Michael Ojo and Jarquez Smith. Christ Koumadje, who is the tallest player in program history at 7-4, could move into the starting lineup after finishing second on the team in blocked shots with 40.
With Smith and Ojo’s departures, Hamilton added some size in the incoming class with 7-1 center Ike Obiagu, who is considered one of the top shot blockers in the country.
The Seminoles got off to a fast start. After going 5-1 during a stretch where they faced six straight ranked opponents, they were 18-2 and ranked sixth, which was their highest ranking since 1993. They barely played over .500 ball after that, going 9-8. All but two of the losses were by double figures.
Hamilton went to more of an up-tempo, transition offense this season since he had more versatile and athletic players. Florida State averaged 82.1 points, which is the most in Hamilton’s 15 seasons at the school, but they struggled late in the season from the perimeter and when forced to play more of a half-court style when teams played zone defense.
Even though the 26 wins are the most that Florida State has had in Hamilton’s tenure, the finish is considered a bit of a disappointment since many considered this to be Hamilton’s most talented team. Hamilton has led Florida State to the Sweet 16 only once (2011).
“I thought we learned a lot,” Hamilton said after Saturday’s game. “There were times I thought they were growing with the relationships, and I think it makes you feel that the future is very bright for these guys that are returning.
“To look back at the season, to see what we’ve been able to accomplish, I’m very proud of these guys and how they’ve hung in against some extremely good competition.”
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.