The deadline to enter the transfer portal has passed, and with that, the Florida State Seminoles basketball roster should be set for the upcoming season. Coach Hamilton regularly stated during last season’s epic fail that he would use the transfer portal to get things back on track. The good news is that FSU limited departures to guys who either don’t fit in the system, or guys who don’t fit in the culture. The bad news is that FSU failed to keep up with the Alabama Crimson Tide and Kansas Jayhawks of the world in term of attracting program changing players out of the mess that is the portal.
Improvements this season will rely on two things the program has lacked in recent years: health, and a return to a junkyard dog mentality.
For those who weren’t paying attention, the four guys who left the program include two of the top-3 scorers (Matthew Cleveland to Miami Hurricanes, and Caleb Mills to Memphis Tigers), enigmatic and frustrating big man Naheem McCleod (to Syracuse Orange), and injured freshman Jeremiah Bembry.
So what’s left.
For the first time since Balsa Koprivica sophomoric rise (and sudden departure) this could be a position of strength. Due to injuries, 6-10 sophomore Cam Corhen played far more than expected last year and by season’s end he had transformed from a high school player who roamed the perimeter to a legitimate modern big man. He was 4th in the ACC in TS% and 14th in ORB%. He needs to become a force on the defensive boards, and prove that the 35% from deep he shot in conference play wasn’t a fluke. But he has the makings of FSU’s most important big since 1st round NBA pick Mfiondu Kabengele.
The other player here is 6-10 senior Jaylen Gainey. The highly anticipated defensive specialist from Brown missed the year with a knee injury. If he’s back in form, FSU will have a pair of mobile bigs who give the coaches different skillsets to exploit matchups.
The highlight is the return of 6-11 4* sophomore Baba Miller. He battled injuries early, and then missed half the year with an inexplicably terrible NCAA suspension, and when he finally did play, he showed flashes of potential but never really settled in to a terrible team. He’s a great defensive rebounder, and if his offensive game has expanded can be a matchup nightmare. I’d expect to see more of him in the post this year as FSU will look to get him the ball in isolation situations.
Senior Darin Green Jr. returns, having made 91 3-pointers. Overplay clearly hurt him down the stretch last year, and better management of his minutes this year should result in improved efficiency.
Cam’Ron Fletcher only played 10 games, but should bounce back to provide FSU with some much needed toughness and defensive disruption. If he can shoot north of 35% from deep, FSU will be in great position on the wing. He should get an injury waiver and be a junior this season.
6-10 sophomore De’Ante Green was supposed to redshirt last year to rehab his knee, but volunteered to play since the team was so desperate for bodies. He flashed the potential that had TN writer Matt Minnick so high on his future. He made 10-14 2s and 4-10 3s in limited action, but most importantly showed that he can guard smaller players. Hopefully his side-to-side mobility will be further improved this year.
Sophomore Tom House was the final part of the equation last year. The 6-7 sharpshooter wasn’t particularly sharp, and that needs to change if he expects to see the floor.
Josh Nickelberry transferred in from LaSalle (after beginning his career for Louisville Cardinals). The 6-4 graduate senior provides another lock-down shooter on the perimeter to complement Darin Green. Nickelberry made 79 3s at a 40% clip.
VCU transfer Jamir Watkins could be an impact guy without leading FSU statistically in anything. The 6-7 junior can rebound, shoot without embarrassing himself, and most importantly be a key cog to FSU getting back to a pressing, disruptive defense. As detailed in the past, the college shot clock is too long to make switching 1-5 on defense a viable defense unless you can disrupt offenses abilities to get into their actions.
Another switchable defender is Taylor Bowen. The 6-9 true freshman is built in the mold of Chris Singleton. The prayer is, like Chris, he’s the best defensive player on the team the moment he steps on campus. Since FSU is deep at the position, they’ll be able to bring him along at whatever pace is most comfortable.
FSU returns junior Jalen Warley and sophomore Chandler Jackson. Both have good size for their position and have the ability to play bully ball. By season’s end, I’d have given Jackson the nod here, but with a new roster and a full offseason I don’t expect Warley to surrender minutes easily.
The third player here is junior Primo Spears. who played >92% of the minutes for the Georgetown Hoyas. He was wildly inefficient, but Georgetown was even worse than FSU, he had to do everything, and he had to do it on tired legs. He could be the x-factor for next year, but that assumes he actually steps on the court for Florida State. He’ll need a waiver, as this is his 3rd school in three years, and there are rumors he may turn pro. We’ll see.
If you do the math, that’s 13 guys, and in college hoops you get 13 scholarships. Why is this important? Because Ham and Co. are still recruiting in the portal. But, as Ham has always said, don’t count his scholarships.