clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

AJ Swinton commits to Florida State

Hot Ham!

Joe Tipton (On3)

Florida State men’s basketball got a pleasant surprise on the recruiting trail early Thursday afternoon when Arlington, Virginia small forward AJ Swinton pledged to the Seminoles:

Swinton, who’s listed at 6’5 180 pounds (more on this in a moment), and is originally from Hyattsville, Maryland plays his high school ball at Bishop O’Connell High School. He has a 94 rating (4-star) from the 247Sports Composite List. The sites consider him the 133rd best player in his class (29th best small forward and 7th best player in Virginia).

In the always tumultuous world of college basketball, Coach Hamilton might consider sending a thank you note to George Mason’s new head coach Tony Skinn for his latest haul. Why? Check out this six-degrees of separation:

Swinton originally committed to the Virginia Tech Hokies in late February, in large part due to a strong relationship with then Hokies assistant coach Mike Jones. Jones is a legendary coaching figure in the area where Swinton grew up, leading DeMatha to a 511-119 record over 19 years, including Swinton’s freshman season at DeMatha. What does that have to do with George Mason? This spring the Patriots filled their head coaching vacancy by hiring Skinn away from Kevin Willard’s staff at Maryland. Willard in turn hired Jones away from VT, bringing him back to his roots. This resulted in Swinton, who had transferred to Sierra Canyon in his junior season, re-opening his recruitment in mid-April.

Florida State offered in early July, it paid off in a big way, as the talented wing becomes the first member of FSU’s 2024 class. Swinton also holds offers from the Georgetown Hoyas, Maryland Terrapins, and West Virginia Mountaineers.

I think it’s safe to say new assistant coach Kevin Nickelberry led the charge in this one, and it’s quite a coup to pull him away from the DMV area with Jones being at Maryland and new Hoyas head man Ed Cooley in pursuit.

What does Swinton bring to Florida State?

Swinton is a classic Hamilton recruit for two reasons: length and versatility.

As noted above, his listing is 6’5, 180, but just from watching recent tape of Swinton it’s obvious he’s bigger than that. His body has really filled out and the lead analyst for said he was 6’6 and more like 210-215 pounds when he visited Blacksburg for the UNC game last season. What’s more, Swinton’s wingspan is reportedly over 7’0 and he uses this incredible length to his advantage as he hunts chase-down blocks and disrupts passing lanes.

He seems most comfortable playing in transition right now, and in fact mentioned that he chose FSU in part because of the pace and defense into offense style the ‘Noles’ utilize. But over the last 12 months there’s been some notable improvements on his jumper and he displayed an ability to at least hit spot up threes, particularly from the corner.

Swinton may not have elite explosiveness, but he’s certainly not a below the rim player. This might sound strange, but his high basketball IQ and ability to score in the paint and the occasional jumper sort of remind me of a much smaller and more explosive RaiQuan Gray, or perhaps a much bigger and slightly less explosive Jason Rich. Clearly neither is a direct comparison, but the bottom line is he’s long, aware, physically sturdy player who can defend multiple positions and contribute in a variety of ways on offense, particularly when playing up-tempo. At this time he’s not elite in any one aspect but he does a lot of things well.

Stay tuned to Tomahawk Nation as the M&M boys (Rogner and Minnick) will be discussing Swinton and more on an upcoming podcast.