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Best men’s basketball player in Florida State history: Round of 32, Williams and Jones Regions

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Welcome to the other half of the bracket.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - St. Bonaventure v Florida State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Earlier this week we tipped off the best men’s basketball player in Florida State history with voting in the Hamilton and Durham Regions. Today we move down to the bottom half of the bracket and open up Round of 32 voting in the Joe Williams and Stan Jones Regionals. And like the top half, there appear to be several tough decisions.

Once again, before we get to the voting here’s a few reminders:

A) The voting should be based on the Florida State career only. Cowens was voted as one of the top 50 NBA players of all time, but for the purposes of this bracket, that incredible honor should not factor in.

2) The voting consideration can include more than just raw stats. Basketball has more variation than football, such as the advent of the three-point shot, large differences in pace of play, inconsistent tracking on stats like blocks and steals, and just the general increase in size and length over the years.

So while career points are certainly worth factoring in, we encourage you to give at least a dollop of consideration to their raw talent and impact in achieving Metro, ACC, and NCAA Tournament accomplishments too.

d) We love stories! It’s impossible to do every player justice in the body of the article. Please regale us with memories of these hardwood legends in the comment section.

Also, here’s the full bracket in case you want to peak at how the entire S-curve shook out.

On to the voting!

Joe Williams Regional

The one seed in Williams Regional is Toney Douglas, one of the best two-way players to ever suit up for the Seminoles. Unlike the other one seeds in this tournament, Douglas doesn’t have is jersey in the rafters of Tuck—yet—but that doesn’t diminish his potential to win the whole darn thing. Incredibly, Douglas might not even be one of the top two pure scorers in his own region. But such is life when Al Thornton, James Collins, and Mitchell Wiggins are on your side of the bracket.

And look who’s lurking there as a dangerous 5-seed: none other than the recently crowned best football player in school history, Charlie Ward. Can the Heisman winner make it 2 for 2?

No. 1 Toney Douglas vs No. 8 Devon Bookert

Bookert earned his place in the bracket by finishing third place in the Gold At-Large Pool, and while the honor might have surprised some people, the perimeter sniper deserves the love. Bookert holds the record for the best 3-point shooting percentage in a season when he connected on more than 52% in 2013. Not just a shooter, Bookert is also 14th all-time in assists and t14th all-time in steals. But Bookert is up against a man who essentially carried an entire program back to the NCAA Tournament in 2009. Douglas’ 751 points scored in that 2009 season not only led the ACC, they are also the most ever scored in a single-season by an FSU player. Oh and he was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, too.

Poll

No. 1 Toney Douglas vs No. 8 Devon Bookert

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    No. 1 Toney Douglas
    (490 votes)
  • 2%
    No. 8 Devon Bookert
    (10 votes)
500 votes total Vote Now
Mitchell Wiggins was a pure scorer.
Seminoles.com

No. 5 Charlie Ward vs No. 4 Mitchell Wiggins

Wow, what a matchup. Ward was the steady leader, setting up others on offense and terrorizing ball handlers on defense. How strong of an on-ball defender was the part-time quarterback? His 71 steals in 1991 are the most ever by a Seminole freshman, his 75 steals in 1992 are the most ever by a Seminole sophomore, and his 238 career steals are the most in school history—and he accomplished this despite playing just two-thirds of the season his junior and senior years. As a playmaker, he ranks 9th all-time in career assists and as the starting point guard he guided FSU to the NCAA Tournament his freshman-junior seasons. But could he defend his Round of 32 opponent?

Wiggins, a JUCO All-American, came to FSU with the reputation as a dynamic scorer and he certainly lived up to it. His 23.8 points per game in 1982 is the second best season scoring average in school history, and the highest mark by any post-integration player. And it wasn’t a fluke. He backed it up with a 22.7 scoring average in 1983, making his 23.2 career average the best ever by a Seminole. Additionally, the 6’4 Wiggins is probably the best rebounding guard in school history, pulling down 8.9 rebounds per game over his two-year career. His multi-faceted efforts earned him 1st Team All-Metro and Honorable Mention AP All-American in both his seasons in Tallahassee.

Poll

No. 5 Charlie Ward vs No. 4 Mitchell Wiggins

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    No. 5 Charlie Ward
    (324 votes)
  • 36%
    No. 4. Mitchell Wiggins
    (189 votes)
513 votes total Vote Now

No. 6 Otto Petty vs No. 3 James Collins

Standing just 5’7, Petty was often the smallest guy on the court. But that didn’t stop him from having a huge impact. Blessed with incredible vision and playmaking skills, Petty is tied for the most assists in a game (16 against South Alabama in 1972) and also holds the record for most assists in a season, with 227 in 1971. His 603 career assists were the school record for nearly 30 years and still rank 2nd all-time, which is even more impressive when you consider he accomplished that in just three seasons. Oh, and he guided FSU to its only Final Four appearance.

Collins, meanwhile, is another one of the devastating scorers in this quadrant of the bracket. He holds the school record for made threes in a career with 255, and his 1,793 points are the third most at FSU. A strong defender as well, ranking 7th all time in steals, Collins put up his impressive offensive numbers while often defending the opponents’ best ball-handler. He was a three-time All-ACC selection, placing on the 3rd team twice and the 2nd team in 1997, when he led FSU to the NIT Finals.

Poll

No. 6 Otto Petty vs No. 3 James Collins

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    No. 6 Otto Petty
    (148 votes)
  • 69%
    No. 3 James Collins
    (331 votes)
479 votes total Vote Now
NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Virginia Tech
Devin Vassell went from 3 star recruit to a 3-point assassin.
Michael Thomas Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Devin Vassell vs No. 2 Al Thornton

Had Vassell returned for one more season in Tallahassee, or maybe even if FSU had just been able to play this year’s NCAA Tournament, it’s possible he would have had a much more favorable Round of 32 matchup. Alas, he finds himself facing Mr. Thornton. Vassell made the bracket by garnering the most votes in the Garnet At-Large Pool—a worthy accomplishment to be sure. A role player his freshman year, his clutch corner three against VT in the 2019 ACC Tournament was a sign of things to come. The lanky wing exploded his sophomore year, leading what was perhaps the best FSU team ever in scoring. He leaves FSU tied for 5th all time in career 3pt percentage and tying the ACC record by going 7-7 from deep against the Hokies. His efforts earned him 2nd team All-ACC and 1st team All-District by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Thornton, an even less heralded recruit than Vassell, had a sensational four-year career that was capped off in 2007 by becoming a 3rd team All-American and runner-up for ACC player of the year. His 45 points (16-24 shooting from the field!) on the road in an OT win against Miami are the second most scored in school history and the most ever by a Seminole in an ACC game, while his 17 made FGs at Duke in 2006 are tied for the second best all-time in that single-game category. Thornton’s 244 career made FGs are third in school history and his 1,521 career points ranks 9th.

Poll

No. 7 Devin Vassell vs No. 2 Al Thornton

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    No. 7 Devin Vassell
    (48 votes)
  • 90%
    No. 2 Al Thornton
    (458 votes)
506 votes total Vote Now

Stan Jones Regional

The final quadrant features the number 1 seed who was 4th on the S-Curve, Dave Fedor. Many younger fans probably don’t recognize the name, but you’ll see he deserves his lofty seeding soon enough. Fedor is joined in the Jones Region by a bevy of talented guards. Ron King, Delvon Arrington, Sam Cassell, Michael Snaer, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and of course Tim Pickett, who’s a darkhorse Final Four pick lurking down there as a three seed. The only true big man in the region is a guy who was tutored by Jones himself: the Sargent of Swat, Bernard James. Of all the regions, this one feels like the most wide open.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Florida State
XRM helped lead FSU back to the NCAA Tournament.
Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Dave Fedor vs No. 8 Xavier Rathan-Mayes

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a Florida State player transitioned from the military to become a star for the garnet and gold. Believe it or not, I’m not referring to Bernard James. Fedor was the original Seminole to go from playing hoops in the military to lacing them up in Tallahassee...and he was so good he had his jersey retired. How good? AP All-American Honorable Mention in 1961 and 1962, good. Second all-time in career scoring average, pouring in 20.2 points per game, Fedor is the only player to score in double-figures for every single game of his career. Not just a scorer, he’s also 3rd all-time in rebounds with 969.

Fedor’s opponent in the Round of 32 is a guy who made headlines his freshman year by scoring 30 points in less than five minutes of play during a loss to Miami. But it was his evolution into a defensive stalwart and gifted playmaker that earned him a spot in the bracket. Yes, XRM finished his three-year career 26th in career scoring with 1,235 points, but more impressively he is 6th all-time in assists, dishing out 451. The Seminole legacy’s leadership helped jumpstart the current run of success the program is enjoying and his efforts earned him All-ACC Honorable Mention honors in 2015 and All-ACC Defensive Team honors in 2017.

Poll

No. 1 Dave Fedor vs No. 8 Xavier Rathan-Mayes

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    No. 1 Dave Fedor
    (408 votes)
  • 18%
    No. 8 Xavier Rathan-Mayes
    (91 votes)
499 votes total Vote Now

No. 5 Delvon Arrington vs No. 4 Sam Cassell

Arrington had the misfortune of playing in the dark ages of Steve Robinson, but the team’s lack of success certainly wasn’t because of him. Despite being supported with some of the weakest supporting casts in Florida State’s history, the 5’11 point guard from the famed St. Anthony’s High in New Jersey became FSU’s all-time leading assist man with 688 dimes. His 13 assists against Georgia Tech in 1999 are the most ever by a ‘Nole in an ACC game. Starting all but one game of his four-year career, Arrington also ranks 2nd in school history in steals, with 225, and his 1,173 points rank 29th at FSU. He even grabbed 443 rebounds, which is pretty impressive for a guy under 6 feet. And while FSU’s teams were pretty bad those years, Arrington still provided fans with some memorable upsets, such as his 13 point/10 assist performance in the 77-76 win over top ranked Duke in 2002, allowing yours truly to storm the court.

In contrast to Arrington, Cassell’s two-year career coincided with two of the most talented rosters in Seminole history—with Cassell arguably the best of them all. Also a product of a famed high school (Baltimore’s Dunbar High), Cassell came to FSU as the best JUCO prospect in the country and he immediately lived up to the billing. His junior season saw him earn All-ACC 2nd team honors as he averaged 18.4 ppg and delivered one of the most memorable quotes in college basketball history. But it was his senior year that was truly magical. Cassell’s 97 steals in 1993 are still the most in school history, while his 641 points rank 6th best for a single-season. Oh, and to top it off, his 170 assists that year are the 12th highest single-season mark, earning 2nd Team All-ACC once again. After just two years in Tallahassee, Cassell still ranks 12th in career steals, 27th in career scoring, and 11th in career scoring average. The ‘Noles played in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 during his two seasons.

Poll

No. 5 Delvon Arrington vs No. 4 Sam Cassell

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    No. 5 Delvon Arrington
    (12 votes)
  • 97%
    No. 4 Sam Cassell
    (489 votes)
501 votes total Vote Now
Tim Pickett brought excitement back to Tuck.
alchetron.com

No. 6 Michael Snaer vs No. 3 Tim Pickett

Now this is a game of 21 I’d pay to see. Two shooting guards with deep range, tenacious defense, and motors that won’t quit, Pickett and Snaer played in different stages of Leonard Hamilton’s rebuilding project but both were stars.

Snaer arrived at FSU as a five-star recruit from Moreno Valley, California and choosing FSU over more established programs. He moved into the starting lineup midway through his freshman year and steadily grew his role over the next season and a half, with his outstanding perimeter defense helping FSU rank number 1 in defensive efficiency during the 2011 season. Snaer’s game then took off to new heights his junior year. He went from a solid three-point shooter to downright deadly, led the Seminoles in offensive efficiency, and emerged as the clear go-to-player in late game situations. He capped off the year by earning ACC Tournament MVP honors while leading FSU to its first ever ACC Championship. Florida State’s talent and depth dropped off significantly his senior year, but Snaer prevented the ‘Noles from having what would have been its first losing season in a decade by hitting a series of buzzer-beaters. For his career, Snaer ranks 8th all-time with 1,560 points, 5th in made threes, and set an NCAA record for the most career buzzer beaters.

Pickett didn’t have the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, but his play almost single-handedly brought FSU out of the Robinson-era doldrums and into a new era of excitement. He truly laid the foundation for what was possible in Tallahassee under Hamilton. A transfer from Indian River CC, Pickett’s two years on campus saw him dominate on both ends of the floor. Let’s start with offense, where Pickett was often lightning in a bottle. A gunslinger in the purest sense, Pickett rained in 84 threes which is the 4th most in school history for one season, while also finishing with the 5th best FT shooting percentage for a single season. The next year he took it to another level, making 110 threes on 270 attempts, which is the 2nd most makes in a season ever at FSU, only behind George McCloud’s 115 in 1989. Defensively, Pickett’s two seasons rank tied for third (with each other) for the most single-season steals in a season—both at 82. He was also a strong rebounding guard, averaging more than 5 per game for his career. In fact, in 2003 Pickett led FSU in points, rebounds, and steals. His play made him a 2-time All-ACC Defensive Team player, 2nd Team All-ACC in 2003, 1st Team All-ACC in 2004, and AP All-American Honorable Mention in 2004 as well. He scored more than 1,000 points in his two seasons, is 6th all time in made threes, and 11th in career steals. More importantly, after FSU averaged just 11.5 wins per season (total, not ACC) in the four years prior to Pickett arriving, the Seminoles improved to 14-15 his junior year and 19-14 his senior year, including a thrilling string of home victories over top 20 ACC opponents and a second round appearance in the NIT.

Poll

No. 6 Michael Snaer vs No. 3 Tim Pickett

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    No. 6 Michael Snaer
    (236 votes)
  • 52%
    No. 3 Tim Pickett
    (260 votes)
496 votes total Vote Now

No. 7 Bernard James vs No. 2 Ron King

Like Pickett—and several others in this bracket—James was a junior college transfer (TCC) who made an immediate impact at FSU. A shot blocker extraordinaire, James ranks 4th all-time in career blocks and his two seasons each rank in the top three for single-season totals in school history. He was also a powerful finisher at the rim catching lobs and slamming home put-back dunks, and his career field goal percentage is the 2nd highest all time. His efforts earned him a spot on the 2012 All-ACC Defensive Team and he was a huge part of FSU’s first ACC Championship.

But King has his jersey in the rafters for a reason. His 46 points scored in a single game are the highest mark ever for a Seminole. He also holds the record for the most field goals made in a season, with 262 in 1971 (doing so in just 26 games). His 21 made field goals against Georgia Southern are the best ever for a single game. Basically, this dude was a scoring machine. Back then, freshmen couldn’t play varsity ball, and instead played other freshmen teams from around the region. King averaged 35.7 points per game on the freshmen team. His 22.7 average on the varsity team in 1971 are tied for 5th best all-time and his 1,252 career points rank 24th all-time, and that’s with him only playing 6 games of his senior year due to a broken leg. King’s shooting was a huge part of why FSU made a run to the national title game in 1972 and his efforts earned him 1st team All-American honors that year.

Poll

No. 7 Bernard James vs No 2. Ron King

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    No. 7 Bernard James
    (68 votes)
  • 86%
    No. 2 Ron King
    (418 votes)
486 votes total Vote Now