Coach Leonard Hamilton doesn't look it, but he's 64 years old. Long ago he was a star high school basketball player in Gastonia, North Carolina, and he began his college career at the local community college. But once he left for Tennessee-Martin he was out of North Carolina for good. He immediately entered coaching upon graduation, and has since coached at the college level in Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Florida.
But through it all he maintained his ties to his home state. He's cultivated relationships with high school and AAU coaches. And he goes there and wins recruiting battles. FSU currently has four players from the state.
Terry Whisnant II (6-3, 185, SO) grew up in Cherryville, just down the road from Gastonia. His family was rooted there, and Whisnant stayed home instead of transferring to a big high school, largely because of his family. That, and he got to break all his father's scoring records. He was Mr. Basketball as a senior - the only 1A public school player to ever win the award. And he scored. A lot. He averaged over 32 points a game.
Then he enrolled at FSU and promptly spent the season on the bench. According to Ian Miller, Whisnant was "shocked at the talent at FSU." Sitting behind three senior guards, Mike Snaer and Miller, Whisnant only averaged 7 minutes a game. And that doesn't count all the games in which he never saw the floor.
So fast forward a year and the typical progression would be from an occasional player off the bench, to a 10-12 minute guy who needs to play defense to see the floor.
Seems reasonable, right?
Not so fast.
Here's Leonard Hamilton: "I tell our players he can shoot if he sees the orange," Hamilton said of the color of the basketball rim. "I don’t do that for many players. I’ll do that for him. If he can see the orange on the rim then it’s a good shot. I want him to understand that."
Coming from Coach Hamilton, that's about as much praise as I've ever heard him offer a sophomore. In other words, this kid can shoot.
And sure enough, in FSU's two exhibitions, Whisnant averaged 27 minutes and made 4-8 three pointers. He also started both of those games. It remains to be seen if he'll still be a starter when Devon Bookert returns, but he is for now. If not he'll fill Ian Miller's role from last year when Miller was 3rd on the team in scoring despite never starting a game.
So after a season of sitting on the bench and failing to crack the rotation in a 3-guard lineup, it's now time for Whisnant to step up. FSU needs him to score. And with his quickness and athleticism, the team needs him to be defensive stopper.