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Best men’s basketball player in Florida State history: Gold at-large pool

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Picking only four is easier said than done.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Florida State
JI tells Jayson Tatum he doesn’t have to go home, but he needs to get the heck away from the basket.
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The first step to any great tournament is building an accurate and complete bracket. As explained in this primer, the entire TN community is helping to build our bracket for the best men’s basketball player in Florida State history. While 24 of the 32 players have already been seeded as “auto-bids” by the TN staff, the remaining 8 spots will be selected, and ultimately seeded, by you.

The 16 players up for at-large consideration have been randomly assigned to two at-large pools; the “garnet” pool and the “gold” pool. Each pool contains eight players and you will be able to select up to four players from the pool that you feel should be included into the final, 32-man bracket. After several days of voting, we will take the top four vote-getters from each pool and seed them into the S-curve from 25-32, ranking them in order of most votes received.

This vote is for the Gold Pool. (Click here for the Garnet Pool to vote on the other 8 guys in contention.) The voting device is down below, but before you make your selections, here are some stats (and when available, video) on each of the players in contention. FYI, the players are listed in random order, so please don’t infer any bias into the order of the list.

Oh, and I mentioned this in the primer, but the perspective you should be aiming for as you vote is one that considers the players’ overall stats and on-court impact at FSU (NBA means nothing), with a dollop of their raw talent and ability mixed in. (In other words, this is not just considering who would win a game of 21).

Murray Brown (1977-1980) - Nicknamed “Mule” thanks to his relentless work ethic, Brown was a role player his first two seasons in Tallahassee when he started just 1 game. That would change in for the 78-79 season. The 6’8 forward started all 60 games his junior and senior years, earning 1st team All-Metro in both campaigns. Brown led the Seminoles in both scoring and rebounding his junior year, averaging 21.7 and 8.3, respectively. His 629 points scored that year is the 8th best single-season in FSU history and his 69.1% field goal percentage led the entire nation. His signature game was a 42 point, 8 rebound performance against Auburn (shooting 16-17 from the field), which is still tied for 5th most points in a game ever at FSU. His numbers dipped slightly to “just” 18.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in 1980, but Brown’s all-around play helped lead Florida State to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in the first year it expanded to 48 teams. Brown sank an astounding 66.8% of his 847 career field goal attempts, giving him the highest career field goal average in FSU history and more than a 4 percentage point gap over Bernard James in second. Unsurprisingly, his 1,470 career points rank 12th all time.

Okaro White (2011-2014) - Long, tough, athletic, selfless, and capable of defending multiple positions. These are the ideal traits for Leonard Hamilton’s system and this is a perfect description of White. A 6’8, bouncy forward with go-go-gadget arms, White could do a bit of everything. His 1,402 career points rank 16th in school history. His 704 career rebounds rank 15th all time. His 107 career blocks place 13th. And his 401 made free throws are the 5th most ever at FSU. Given all this, it’s no wonder White was a part of a Sweet 16 team in 2011 and the school’s first ACC Championship in 2012. Additionally, White is the Cal Ripken of FSU basketball, setting a record with 139 consecutive games played. 2014 was White’s best statistical year as the senior scored 15+ points in 19 games and finished the year with the 6th best TS% (true shot percentage factors in FG% and FT%) in the ACC, the 10th best free throw rate in the league, the 19th best block rate, and the 20th best defensive rebounding rate. His efforts earned him a spot on the All-ACC defensive team, which was clearly a well-deserved recognition:

Harry Davis (1975-1978) - Inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1998, Davis was a dominant big man for the Seminoles. Check out these career numbers: 10th all time in points with 1,514, tied for 3rd in career made field goals with 640, 6th in career field goal percentage at 58.4%, and tied for 12th in career double doubles with 21. And Davis saved the best for last. His senior year saw him average 19.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, while leading FSU to a 23-6 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament (just a 32-team field back then). At the time, this win total was tied for the second most in school history. Davis capped the 1978 season by being named Metro Conference Co-Player of the Year before becoming a second round draft pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Corey Louis (1995-1998) - A 6’9 power forward from Miami Northwestern High School, Louis was a highly touted recruit and lived up to his billing as a dominant rim protector from the moment he stepped on campus. His 74 blocks in the 1995 season are the 5th best in any FSU season ever and still the most by any Seminoles freshman. He also recorded the most blocks by a Seminole in ACC play when he swatted nine Maryland Terrapins’ shots in January 1995. This ferocious shot blocking, to go along with 7.8 rebounds per game, earned him a spot on the All-ACC Rookie Team. His numbers dipped a bit as Florida State suffered through the tumultuous end of the Pat Kennedy era, but his senior season saw him thrive under Steve Robinson and he helped lead Florida State back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993, culminating in a first round upset of 5th seeded TCU. For his career, Louis ranks 2nd all-time in career blocks with 196, 15th all-time in double-doubles with 19, and 35th all time in career scoring with 1,127 points. Here’s a few highlights from his 1998 season:

Randy Allen (1984-1987) - A 6’8 forward from nearby Milton, Florida, Allen was a key contributor for the Seminoles almost from day one. In fact, he started 112 of the 115 games he played in, which is good for the 3rd most games started in the history of the program. Equally adept on offense and defense, Allen ranks 14th all time in career points with 1,436 and also ranks 14th all time in career blocks with 103. In addition to making the Metro Conference All-Freshman team in 1984, Allen was a two-time 2nd team All-Metro selection in 1985 and 1986. It was his sophomore campaign that was statistically his best, as he averaged 15.6 point, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 block, and 1.3 steals per game. Despite FSU struggling to a 14-16 record that season, Allen’s play earned him Sporting News All-American Honorable Mention honors. A couple decades later, Allen’s son Brandon would don the garnet and gold under coaching legend Leonard Hamilton.

Devon Bookert (2013-2016) - Modern basketball is predicated on spreading the court, generating easy looks at the rim, and knocking down shots from the perimeter. In other words, Devon Bookert is a really good player for the modern game. Alaska’s Gatorade Player of the Year in high school, Bookert arrived at FSU with the reputation as a shooter and he did not disappoint. His 52.5% shooting from deep in 2013 is the best single-season marksmanship from the perimeter in school history. But not content with just being a shooter, Bookert matured into a playmaker and solid defender as well. In his senior season FSU fell just short of receiving an NCAA Tournament bid, but the heartache wasn’t the fault of Bookert. He had the second best 3-point shooting in the ACC (47.1%), the 19th best assist rate in the league, and the 2nd best steal rate in the conference. All over the Seminoles record book, Bookert ranks 4th in career 3-point percentage at 41.9%, 7th in made 3s with 188, 14th in career assists with 347, tied for 14th in steals with 139, and 36th all time with 1,120 career points. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise he’s got a lengthy highlight reel:

Tony Jackson (1977-1980) - A teammate of Murray Brown, Jackson was the straw that stirred the drink on those fantastic late 70s teams. Standing just 6’0 tall, the point guard from Lexington, Kentucky was similar to Trent Forrest in that he was a gifted playmaker and on-ball defender, but also knew how to get to the rim or free throw line when his team needed a bucket. Finding the open man was his bread and butter, though. His 15 assists against UAB in 1980 are tied for the 3rd most in any game ever at FSU, but it was almost commonplace for Jackson as he had 7 games with 10+ assists that season. In total, Jackson dished out 216 assists in 1980 which is still the second most prolific season in school history (only behind Otto Petty’s 227 in 1971—and Petty had the benefit of passing to some guy named Ron King), while Jackson’s 561 career assists place him 3rd on the all-time list. On the defensive side, Jackson ranks 6th in FSU history with 202 steals. Named 2nd team All-Metro in 1979, there’s no way FSU enjoys the level of success it did in the late 70s and 1980 without Jackson running the show.

Jonathan Isaac (2017) - A ballyhooed recruit, Isaac (aka “JI”) only played one season in Tallahassee before becoming the 6th pick in the 2017 NBA draft. But oh what a season it was. Not having tasted the NCAA Tournament since 2012, Isaac transformed FSU’s defense back into the junkyard dog fans were accustomed to en route to a 26-9 record (a perfect 18-0 at home) and a 2nd place finish in the ACC. Isaac grabbed a whopping 25% of the available defensive rebounds while he was on the court, which was top 50 in the country and 2nd best in the ACC. Isaac also ranked 3rd in the ACC with a 6.8% block rate, 19th in the conference with a 2.3% steal rate, and 13th in the league with nearly 5 fouls drawn per 40 minutes. Offensively, JI was the picture of efficiency, as he made 35% of his threes, nearly 60% of his twos, and finished with the 10th best offensive rating in the ACC. All of this earned him a spot on the All-ACC Freshmen Team. Obviously his career stats are not lofty. However, Isaac’s 251 rebounds are the most ever by a freshmen in school history and his 49 blocks are tied for the 14th most in any season, regardless of class. His signature game came in a top 15 showdown against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, as FSU won 83-80 in an instant classic. Isaac finished with 23 points (7-9 from the field, 7-7 from the stripe), 10 rebounds, 7 blocks, plus a steal and an assist. Another monster effort was his 17 point, 10 rebound, 5 assist, 3 block, and 2 steal performance in a first round NCAA Tournament victory.

Alright, now that the resumes have been reviewed it’s time to make your selections. Remember, you may vote for up to four players in the gold pool whom you believe should be included in the final, 32-man bracket. The top 4 vote-getters will be slotted into the S-Curve based on the total number of votes they receive.

Pro-tip — Consider going into the comment section prior to voting, as you’re bound to find stories and memorable game descriptions about most of these players.