Florida State finished last season with a 23-10 record (12-6 ACC) before falling to Georgia in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Seminoles surprised many people last year as they were predicted to finish ninth in the ACC but ended up finishing tied for fourth in the league. This year Florida State will not be overlooked as the Noles are included in the top 25 rankings of nearly every preseason poll. This year FSU seems to have the personnel to make a postseason run.
Let’s take a closer look at the Seminoles.
Lucía Navarro (Freshman, Valencia, Spain)
Carla Viegas (Freshman, Malaga, Spain)
Sakyia White (Junior, Jones College, Tuscaloosa, AL)
Avery Treadwell (Freshman, Knoxville, TN)
Amaya Bonner (Sophomore, Fremont, CA)
Alexis Tucker (Graduate, Hawthorne, CA)
Jazmine Massengill (Graduated)
Taylor O’Brien (Graduated)
Erin Howard (Graduated)
Valencia Myers (Graduated)
In last year’s season preview I wrote the following about Ta’Niya Latson:
“Ta’Niya Latson is a 5* recruit who was rated as the top shooting guard in the nation by ESPN. The former McDonald’s All-American is a fearless competitor who won’t be intimidated in the least when facing college athletes. The former Florida Ms. Basketball has the potential to be an All-ACC type player. The question will be how long it takes her to realize that potential.”
Well it didn’t take long. Latson was a revelation last year. As a freshman Latson averaged 21.3 points, 4.5 rebounds on 45.5% FG (36.2% 3pt) shooting and a blistering 85.9% from the charity stripe. She earned national freshman of the year honors from virtually every major publication and was the only freshman to make the All-ACC first team. In short, she had a pretty good year.
Latson is also the only freshman or sophomore to be one of the 16 players named to the Wade Trophy preseason watch list.
Latson averaged that very impressive 21.3 points per game but it would have been even higher if she hadn’t sustained a knee injury that inhibited her play toward the end of the season. Despite that, Latson proved to be the type of player that you can build a program around. Early in the season she was virtually unguardable. If defenders crowded her she blew by them into the lane where she would score or get fouled (or both) and of course she was deadly from the line. If defenders played off of her she could hit the three or maneuver for an easier midrange jumper. On top of all of that she was a willing passer. Her production dipped a bit later in the year because of the injuries and also because the officials starting calling fewer fouls. If she doesn’t regress she is capable of having another monster season.
Sara Bejedi had a breakout season last year. Her numbers weren’t eye popping at first glance (10.8pts, 32.1%FG, 21.1% 3pt, 74.8% FT) as she got off to a cold shooting start early in the year. However, she found another gear midway through the season and really became a different player. Bejedi was always a great on ball defender which is why the staff kept her in the starting lineup. However, she found a way to get even better by accentuating all of the positives in her game while almost eliminating all of the negatives. She used to have issues with shot selection and over penetration that led to avoidable turnovers. She basically fixed all of that last year and there were times last year when she was FSU’s most effective player.
O’Mariah Gordon was a heralded five star recruit out of high school. However in her first two years at Florida State she has been dealing with a foot injury so she hasn’t been fully healthy which has affected her production. This year Gordon is fully healthy and Florida State fans may see the real Gordon who as the former Florida Ms. Basketball was simply scintillating in high school. Gordon is a player with the quickness to get to the basket and she pairs that penetration ability with three point range on her jumper.
Alexis Tucker is a transfer from UC Santa Barbara. Tucker led the Gauchos in scoring last season (14.2pts) on 45.5% shooting with 6.1 rebounds. She also shoots 83.2% from the free throw line. Tucker was an all Big West first team player last year. The staff is really high on Tucker as she provides experience along with scoring punch from the wing.
Carla Viegas and Lucia Navarro are two freshmen from Spain who can provide size and wing scoring. Viegas shot 23-of-51 (45.1 percent) from behind the arc at the U17 World Championship. That kind of shooting is just what the Seminoles need as FSU has struggled from three point land in recent years. Navarro averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds in her U18 league. With her size she can really help the Seminoles defensively and on the boards.
Speaking of size, Brianna “Snoop” Turnage is a player that can help FSU defensively and with rebounding. Turnage struggled with injuries last season but now that she is healthy she has the ability to give the Noles important minutes off the bench. Amaya Bonner is a transfer from Cal who was a top 100 4* recruit out of high school. Bonner offers size and versatility as a player who can play at guard or forward.
Makayla Timpson (13.2pts, 8.8reb) is one of the best players in the ACC. She should have been first team all-ACC last year. Timpson is a walking double-double. She is essential to FSU’s success this year as she can score and rebound and she happens to be one of the best defenders (2.09blks) in the ACC.
Sakyia White was a first team JUCO all-America last year averaging 16.8 points and 11.9 rebounds along with 18 double-doubles. It would be unrealistic to expect White to duplicate those numbers in the ACC but White is an accomplished scorer despite being a bit undersized and she is a rugged rebounder. In short, White is a talent who at the very least figures to take a bit of pressure off of Timpson as she can provide scoring inside.
Avery Treadwell is the only pure center on the team. The 6’3 Treadwell averaged 15 points and 11 boards per game in high school. Treadwell will not have to come in and set the world on fire as a freshman. As long as she provides a bit of production off the bench she will be providing the Seminoles just what they need in her freshman season.
Mariana Valenzuela was a player that was poised for a breakout season this year. She is a good rebounder who offers the size to defend post players. Unfortunately, Valenzuela will miss the season with an ACL tear that she sustained playing internationally this summer. The Noles will really miss her three point shooting as she was a blistering 40-75 (53.3%) last year from deep.
In one year the Seminoles have gone from being the hunter to being the hunted. FSU will not sneak up on anyone this year. Despite the loss of Valenzuela the Noles have the roster to meet the expectations.
Realistically, this team will go as far as Latson and Timpson can take them. The good news for Nole Nation is that both of those players are really good and they will have considerable help as the players around them are talented.
The ACC is going to be as tough as ever but if this team gets a few breaks (avoiding the injury bug) the Noles will have every opportunity to make a postseason run in March.
The Seminoles will open the season tonight against Charleston Southern in the Civic Center. The game will tip at 6:00pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.