Florida State finished last season with a 17-14 record (10-8 ACC) before falling to Missouri State in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament. Long time head coach Sue Semrau announced her retirement shortly after the season. Soon after former associate head coach Brooke Wyckoff was promoted to head coach.
The summer was a tumultuous one for Florida State as several players left via the transfer portal. However, the Seminoles used the portal to bring in a pair of experienced players and also to welcome a much heralded recruit. The Seminoles seem to have the pieces in place to make a run at a tenth straight NCAA Tournament berth.
Let’s take a closer look at the Seminoles.
Ta’Niya Latson (Freshman/Miami, FL)
Jazmine Massengill (Transfer/Graduate/Chattanooga, TN/Kentucky)
Brianna “Snoop” Turnage (Freshman/Atlanta, GA)
Taylor O’Brien (Transfer/Graduate/Lafayette Hill, PA/Bucknell)
Bianca Jackson (transferred to Georgia Tech)
River Baldwin (transferred to NC State)
Sammie Puisis (transferred to South Florida)
Amaya Brown (transferred to New Mexico)
Kourtney Weber (transferred to Mississippi State)
Tiana England (Graduated)
Morgan Jones (transferred to Louisville)
Izabela Nicoletti (transferred to Fairfield)
Florida State has real talent at the guard position. It all starts with sophomore point guard O’Mariah Gordon (7.4pts, 3.0ast., .463 FG, .381 3PT). Gordon battled injuries last year but the former Florida Ms. Basketball really came on at the end of the year to show why she was such a heralded recruit coming out of high school. Gordon is a dynamic player who is ready to take the reins at the point guard position. Experienced senior Sara Bejedi (6.4pts, .358 FG, .351 3PT) is more than ready to spell Gordon when needed.
Veteran transfer Taylor O’Brien (16.7pts, 6.5reb, .410 FG, .337 3PT) comes from Bucknell to play her graduate season at Florida State. O’Brien led a pretty good Bison team in scoring and rebounding last year (her numbers would have also led FSU in both of those categories). While it wouldn’t be fair to expect her to match those stats against ACC competition, O’Brien is just the kind of talented, versatile player that FSU needed especially with all of the talent transferring out after last year.
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.
Erin Howard (5.1pts, 4.2reb, .381 FG, .276 3PT) returns for Florida State this season. The senior forward battled injuries last year but she is healthy to start the season this year. Howard is one of the players that FSU will be counting on to step up to replace some of the production lost to the transfer portal. If she can avoid injury Howard has the talent to improve on last year’s numbers.
Jazmine Massengill (7.0pts, 4.7ast, .406 FG, .295 3PT) comes over from Kentucky. Massengill started all 30 games for the Cats last year leading them in assists. Massengill provides length and tough defense on the wing. Her experience will also be invaluable for a young Seminoles team.
Brianna Turnage is a former 4* top 100 recruit who originally signed with Virginia Tech out of high school. She didn’t play for the Hokies so she still has all four years of eligibility remaining. Turnage is a versatile player who is capable of doing a little bit of everything. Her size could be a valuable asset for FSU this year.
Makayla Timpson (6.6 pts, 3.6reb, .623 FG) returns for her sophomore season and that is great news for Nole Nation. Timpson was an All-ACC Freshman Team selection and she seems poised for a breakout season. There were times last year when Timpson was almost unstoppable in the post. Look at that FG% from last year. It is not a misprint. Timpson’s only problem last year was that she didn’t get enough touches (okay, free throw shooting was an issue too). Timpson is the type of player that can put a team on her back - even in the ACC.
Valencia Myers (5.6pts., 5.3reb, .436 FG) is back for her final year in Tallahassee. Myers is a true post player who has the size and experience to guard other bigs in the ACC. FSU obviously had a lot of turnover form last year’s roster but Myers is one of the players that the Noles really needed to keep.
Mariana Valenzuela (2.1pts, 2.3reb, .486 FG) is a player that will see her minutes take a big leap from last season. Valenzuela is a very good rebounder who will see a big increase in her rebounding stats once her minutes increase.
Florida State only has 10 players on the roster. Every player on this roster is talented. There simply aren’t enough of them. It is imperative that FSU avoids injuries.
The ACC is either the best or second best conference in the nation depending on how much you like the SEC. The competition will be extremely stiff. However, the Noles can handle it. Gordon and especially Timpson will be key. If O’Brien can come close to replicating her numbers from Bucknell Florida State could surprise some people. Finally, Latson could end up being the X-factor. It is tough to put huge expectations on a true freshman but Latson is special.
Many people are looking at this year as a rebuilding one for Florida State. That is understandable because the ACC is going to be absolutely brutal this year. However, if the Seminoles can remain healthy there is certainly enough talent on the roster to earn yet another NCAA Tournament invitation.
The Seminoles will open the season today against Bethune Cookman in the Civic Center. The “Education Game” will tip at 11:00am and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.