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FSU basketball film review: MJ Walker’s debut

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How did the heralded freshman do in his opening game?

NCAA Basketball: George Washington at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

MJ Walker was the No. 28 recruit in the nation, according to the 247 Composite rankings, which makes him the highest rated recruit on FSU’s roster. It’s always interesting to see how freshman perform at the beginning of the season, and how they develop during the course of the year. So consider this as establishing the baseline.

But as I was evaluating the film of the first game, the overall speed of this team jumped out.


  • The only time FSU’s shot clock went into single digits in the first half was on the final possession.
  • In the first half, 48% of Florida State’s initial shot attempts (prior to any offensive boards) came in the first seven seconds of the possession.
  • Prior to FSU slowing the game down in the final four minutes, the shot clock hit single digits twice in the second half. One of those was when the Colonials first switch into a 1-3-1 zone.
  • After all of this, Coach Hamilton complained multiple times that his team wasn’t playing fast enough.

To MJ Walker!

On the first play of his college career he was put into the Michael Snaer/Aaron Thomas/XRM role of applying pressure to the ball handler 85’ from the rim. It took him about three seconds to steal the ball. Then he drove to the rim and found a cutting Mfiondu Kabengele for the bucket.

Then he drilled a three from the left wing.

After that, freshmanitis kicked in. He committed a predictable offensive foul on an out-of-control drive. Then he bit on a pump fake at the other end, and got yanked after picking up two quick fouls.

Coach Ham typically sits players until half after they pick up two fouls, but he trusted Walker to go back in the game. His final minutes were a mix of good (a nice diagonal pass to CJ Walker in the corner for a 3), and bad (not boxing out).

In the second half he did a great job of staying high* and drawing a charge. And he showed a variety of nice moves:

  • NBA depth on a three
  • A pump fake, step in jumper
  • Good look ahead in transition for a Cofer dunk
  • Nice show of ball handling as he dribbled left handed in traffic the length of the court

Defensively, he showed good anticipation when he jumped across the charge circle in order to draw an offensive foul. And after getting yelled at for again not boxing out, he got a body on someone in a series of possessions.

All in all, it was a solid, efficient debut. He’ll be fun to watch going forward.

*staying high: Coach Hamilton’s defense requires defenders to “stay high” on the wing. What this means is that when a ballhandler is on the wing, the defender plays above him, forcing him toward the baseline where help is waiting. On the charge that MJ Walker drew, the ballhander tried to break tendency and get above MJ rather than going toward the baseline. MJ was quick enough to draw the charge.