The transfer portal continues to churn and this time it is the Florida State Seminoles men’s basketball team passing “go” and collecting $200. Following a visit to Tallahassee, Amir “Primo” Spears, a 6’3 lead guard who spent this past season with the Georgetown Hoyas announced his intention to transfer to Florida State. Spears selected FSU over a reported top 4 of the Kansas Jayhawks, Arkansas Razorbacks, and TCU Horned Frogs:
In an interview from early April, Spears indicated that along with being part of a winning program, trust with the coaching staff and a “good brotherhood” were very important in his decision. This makes it seem likely that FSU’s recent hiring of former Georgetown Associate Head Coach Kevin Nickelberry played a key role in Spears ultimately selecting the garnet and gold.
What does Spears bring to FSU?
In a lot of ways, Spears appears similar to recently departed Seminoles transfer, Caleb Mills. Both are in the 6’3 - 6’4 range and both are around 180-185 pounds. Both guys are also more “scorers” than they are “shooters,” with Mills shooting 29% from deep this past year for FSU, while Primo connected on exactly 30% of his three point attempts during both his freshman sophomore campaigns. Similarly, both guys take a lot of difficult shots off the bounce, with highlight tapes showcasing arrays of made step-backs and pull-ups. Lastly, neither guy (at least on paper) is all that strong at rebounding the ball, though I admit that I don’t know the schemes Patrick Ewing was deploying at Georgetown well enough to know whether Spears was being asked to crash the glass or not.
One aspect Spears might bring a little more to the table than Mills is playmaking. An upcoming junior, Spears is now a two-time transfer, having spent his freshman season leading the Duquesne Dukes in scoring and assists. Then this past season as a Hoya, Spears had a 30.2% assist rate—meaning he assisted on 30% of the baskets made by his teammates while he was on the court. This not only led Georgetown, he also ranked third in the Big East.
Another aspect that popped on tape was how he attacks. Mills had the best handle on the team, but there were many occasions where he dribbled without a clear purpose or intent of attacking. Spears often appears more purposeful in how he’s using his handle to either get to his mid-range spots in the half court, or attack the basket as a blur in the open court. Examples of both these can be seen in his 19 point (on 8-17 shooting from the field), 5 rebound performance at eventual national champion Connecticut back in December:
What will be interesting to see is how his ball dominance works in FSU’s system. In addition to his sky-high assist percentage, Spears attempted 26.6% of the Hoyas shots while he was on the court. That’s a higher percentage of shots than any FSU player last season (Darin Green was 24.9% and Mills was 24.5%), and when you consider that Spears played 92.3% of the possible minutes for Georgetown last season, as well as the number of buckets he assisted on, well he clearly had the ball in his hands quite a bit.
As we’ve seen, FSU’s offense is at its best when the ball is zipping around the court, not sticking in one place, and ideally being pushed up court in transition or finding open shooters in the corner off penetration. How much of this usage was a result of the Hoyas having essentially no one else who could create off the dribble and how much is just Spears’ style, remains to be seen. Hopefully Spears will be able to adjust to being off-ball at times.
With Spears on board, there are currently no more open scholarships for Coach Hamilton and company to give out (although, as the old saying goes: “don’t count Ham’s scholarships.”).