Countdown to College Basketball: #18 Florida State Seminoles

Leonard Hamilton has built one of the most consistently great programs in College Basketball as the Seminoles are a mainstay in the Top-25 on a yearly basis. Need not have a great core of returning players or a player that contends for All-American honors, this Seminoles team is always deep, athletic, and talented, which will be the case once again this season. Yes, the Seminoles lost their three leading scorers from last year’s team but they will replace that production one way or another and be back in position to have a high finish in the ACC while threatening to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. 

While losing scoring is always a concern, Florida State adds in a proven scorer in Caleb Mills, who just a season ago was the AAC Preseason Player of the year. While Mills probably won’t be a 15 per game type of player, like many might expect, look for him to be a steady leading scorer. Mills is a good shooter, defender, and is great at forcing turnovers against lead guards, which will all work perfectly as he will probably play both on and off the ball this season. Anthony Polite looks to share some lead guard responsibilities, Polite can run the point guard for this team and will do it on some occasions, but excels also playing off the ball where he is able to find open shots and drill them at his over 40 percent clip from beyond the arc. Polite seems poised to be the latest Seminole to have a bit of a breakout season when being asked to step into a bigger role.

The Seminoles bring Rayquan Evans, Malik Osborne, and Wyatt Wilkes back for another season where they look to expand upon their roles. Evans is a 6’4 guard that is a good role player, he could run points at certain moments, while he’s a good defender, and hopes to have an improved scoring load this season. Osborne is a really good role player as he’s a great defender, solid shooter, and rebounder, look for him to the best defender on this roster as he will guard most teams’ wings, but is able to switch both onto guards and bigs. Wyatt Wilkes is also a 6’8 forward who is a good defender, while he provides a little bit more floor-spacing than Osborne and will now have a little more freedom to take open jumpers if they become available.  

The Seminoles also have a group of great recruits coming in with Matthew Cleveland, Jalen Warley, and John Butler who all should be good pieces in the future. Cleveland looks to be a one-and-done as he is a 6’6 wing that is a good shooter, athlete, and ball-handler, while he probably won’t be a true point guard this season, he will produce at a high level for this team and occasionally bring the ball up. Jalen Warley is a 6’4 guard, who is a true combo guard, he’s a good passer, scorer, and defender. Warley probably will be the sixth man this season but should take over as the lead guard as soon as next season. As for John Butler, he is a 7’1 forward who has the ability to score at a high level and has shades of Kevin Durant, although he still is really raw as a prospect and won’t be a huge piece this season, give him time and he could be a valuable piece for this program. 

As always, Florida State will have an imposing front line in which to work with this season. Naheem McLeod could start at the five this season, McLeod is a 7’3 big man that should protect the paint while being an efficient scorer as well. Standing at only 7’1, Tanor Ngom played limited minutes a season ago but now moves into a rotation in which he will be asked to defend and rebound for this team. While not a true big man, Kentucky transfer Cam’Ron Fletcher projects as a somewhat undersized big man, but his versatility will be key and he should have a decent role at Florida State. 

As usual, this Florida State team is going to play at the same level as they always do, the floor for this team is being a Top-25 team, while the offensive ceiling probably prevents this team from making a Final Four or winning a National Championship. This team should win a lot of games, the defense is always really tough and physical, while they will just beat out a lot of teams with their collection of depth. Mere mortal College Basketball teams will struggle to score more than 60 points on any given occasion just due to this team being able to take you out of what you want to do. That said, the Seminoles will likely also struggle to score at times and lose to great defensive teams because of that.

The chances of this team making a deep NCAA Tournament run are predicated on having their offensive pieces break out in big ways. If Caleb Mills, Matthew Cleveland, and maybe even John Butler are able to be high-level scorers, this team may have a chance to achieve high levels of success and maybe make a run to the Final Four, but at a baseline, this team will make the NCAA Tournament as a high seed and will compete for an ACC title, which are good things to fall back on. 

Projected Rotation 

PG: Anthony Polite

SG: Caleb Mills

SF: Matthew Cleveland 

PF: Malik Osborne 

C: Naheem McLeod

B1: Jalen Warley

B2: RayQuan Evans

B3: John Butler

B4: Cam’Ron Fletcher

B5: Wyatt Wilkes

B6: Tanor Ngom

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