Evaluating FSU's freshmen

USA TODAY Sports

Ain't gonna lie - this was a frustrating season. I honestly thought that this team had an excellent chance to make the tournament. I even predicted them as somewhere in the 8/9 seed range. The problem was that I didn't anticipate several key things. I didn't anticipate that this would be the slowest team in Ham's tenure to pick up the basics of the defense. I didn't anticipate the starting point guard suffering a pre-season injury of any kind, much less a foot injury that would never heal after it was later stepped on and re-injured. Or that his back-up would suffer a preseason injury as well, only this one was a scooter accident that the team would initially cover up and was severe enough to almost cost him his career. And I didn't anticipate Terrance Shannon missing much of the 2nd half of the season due to an injury affecting his spinal column.

I wasn't as wrong as the coaches or 23 members of the national media who had them in their preseason top 25, but I was wrong. FSU was an NIT team. So it goes.

If you focus on that frustration, then the year is lost. But luckily, the newcomers gave us reason to hope. Whether it was Montay Brandon's ridiculous SportsCenter drive and dunks in the final game of the season, or Aaron Thomas's late season defense, or Kiel Turpin finally figuring out that if he was on the basketball court then he needed to be playing angry. There were 7 players who had never played a minute for FSU and at some point all 7 made you nod and think about the future.

To examine this, I looked at every FSU freshman of the Ham era. Unfortunately, there is no tempo free data for the first two classes, so this analysis begins with the Isaiah Swann/Jason Rich/Ralph Mims class.

Offensive rating (oRtg) is the catch all which describes how well a possession ends when that particular player is involved in the ending. This is why we don't waste a lot of time on points per game or other less meaningful stats. We go straight to the important stuff, which (like all statistics) require a bit of context.

Looking at every freshmen in that timeframe, here is the list of how they performed in their first season on campus.

player oRtg
Devon Bookert 110.6
Boris Bojanovsky 106.7
Terry Whisnant 106.1
Okaro White 103.7
Solomon Alabi 102.9
Ralph Mims 100.1
Xavier Gibson 99.6
Casaan Breeden 99.6
Chris Singleton 94.7
Julian Vaughn 94.7
Ian Miller 94.4
Jason Rich 93.9
Ryan Reid 91.5
Aaron Thomas 91.4
Michael Snaer 89.6
Deividas Dulkys 89.5
Luke Loucks 86.3
Uche Echefu 82.7
Jordan Demercy 81.9
Isaiah Swann 80.5
Montay Brandon 77.0
Michael Ojo 62.1

The thing which immediately jumps out is that Devon Bookert and Boris Bojanovsky just had the two highest offense ratings for FSU freshmen in nearly a decade. Bookert did it by leading the nation in 3-pt% (for players with at least 30 attempts) and Bojo did it by making 2s (55%) and making his FTs (76%).

Aaron Thomas was somewhere in the middle of the list, and ironically right above Michael Snaer's freshman year. Apparently the similarities in their games are more than superficial.

It's no surprise that Michael Ojo had the lowest rating, but it is a bit of a surprise that Montay Brandon had the 2nd lowest. Brandon - the 3rd string point guard in pre-season - was thrust into a roll before he was ready for it. If Bookert and Miller are at full strength next season, then look for Brandon's numbers to make a big jump.

The other key thing to look at is minutes played. Here is that same list.

player oRtg %Min
Chris Singleton 94.7 66.8
Michael Snaer 89.6 58.8
Solomon Alabi 102.9 55.2
Devon Bookert 110.6 53.7
Montay Brandon 77.0 47.9
Jason Rich 93.9 46.7
Aaron Thomas 91.4 46.5
Luke Loucks 86.3 42.1
Okaro White 103.7 41.0
Isaiah Swann 80.5 41.0
Ryan Reid 91.5 40.1
Julian Vaughn 94.7 29.6
Deividas Dulkys 89.5 29.3
Boris Bojanovsky 106.7 26.8
Ian Miller 94.4 24.3
Jordan Demercy 81.9 21.5
Ralph Mims 100.1 21.4
Uche Echefu 82.7 17.5
Xavier Gibson 99.6 14.5
Terry Whisnant 106.1 13.5
Casaan Breeden 99.6 12.3
Michael Ojo 62.1 10.0

Bookert is one of four freshmen under Ham who have played more than half the minutes. And Bookert, Brandon, and Thomas were all among the top six in terms of minutes.

For the transfers, it's harder to pull out meaningful comparisons, just because not many JUCO's have played here, and each situation is unique.

One comparison which seems legit is Bernard James and Kiel Turpin. Both were raw, but in totally different ways. This table shows each players' offensive rebound %, defensive rebound %, block %, and FD/40.

player OR% DR% Block % FD/40
Bernard James 11.7 18.5 13.5 5.2
Kiel Turpin 10.2 13.0 8.6 4.1

It's clear that James outplayed Turpin, but that's alright. James was an early 2nd round pick in the NBA. All FSU needs out of Turpin in his senior year is for him to be a solid ACC player.

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