It’s the final home game for Michael Ojo and Jarquez Smith. They’re both seniors and they play the same position, with Ojo starting and Smith coming in to give him a breather, but they came to Florida State in separate classes, and playing different positions.
Jarquez Smith was allowed in high school to just roam the perimeter and do whatever he wanted. The fringe 4* recruit chose Florida State after being in Tallahassee for FSU vs UNC (the Dulkys game), and there was little doubt which school he would choose considering that at the buzzer he jumped out of the stands and led the students who were rushing the floor. The FSU staff thought he could develop into a stretch-4, giving them a 6-9 guy who could switch onto smaller players on defense, and on offense, could draw defenders away from the basket. But after his sophomore year, they realized that there was a bigger need for him in the middle. And so, the easy going stretch-4 became an undersized center. Now he’s playing his 132nd game, and hasn’t missed one since early in his freshman year.
Michael Ojo, on the other hand, came to FSU as he didn’t have many other Division I offers. When he arrived, he was so raw that we would tweet acknowledgement of every basketball specific move he made (dribbles included!). By his sophomore year he showed flashes of potential. In his junior year, he continued to round into form. And then he blew his knee, right before FSU would really need him as a senior. Luckily, for FSU fans, he stayed, graduated, and decided to work on his Master’s. As a senior, he’s finally a basketball player. He doesn’t have many offensive moves, but he’s one of the best interior defenders in the ACC, and he’s a free throw shooter who can be counted on.
So salute them. The game will be sold out. Stand and cheer.
For those paying attention, FSU has already signed four guys for next year, have a commitment from a fifth, and are still recruiting 5*s MJ Walker and Kevin Knox for spot number six. With two graduating seniors and an otherwise full roster, this obviously won’t be the last game for just Ojo and Smith.
In fact, the entire starting lineup could be gone.
Jonathan Isaac is going to be a top 10 pick. He’s gone. Then there are the guys we though would leave after last season - Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes - and the writing on the wall suggests that they will also be beginning their professional careers in whatever capacity that may be. Terance Mann seems the most likely to return, but you never know. As Coach Hamilton likes to say, don’t count his scholarships.
The end of all this comes down to No. 15 Florida State vs No. 25 Miami. With a win, Florida State guarantees themselves a double-bye in the ACC tourney as one of the top four seeds. But even with a loss the ‘Noles could end up as high as the 3-seed. This, in what has been described, as a contender for the best conference in college basketball history. That’s what kind of year it has been.
The game tips at 4 PM and will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the ACC Digital Network. FSU opened as 7-point favorites.