Leonard Hamilton’s recent Florida State teams have been known for size, defending, and rebounding, and this team is no different. Despite losing 6 major contributors from last year’s ACC Tournament Championship team, the Seminoles should not see much of a drop-off thanks to a large recruiting class and several key returning players. Building off the success of last season will hinge on how quickly the newcomers can mesh with the upperclassmen.
Despite being a large team, the strength of this team will be in the backcourt. Wing Michael Snaer, some pundits’ pick for preseason player of the year in the ACC, is the unquestioned leader of the Seminoles. While Snaer averaged 14 points per game last season, his impact is most obvious in his defense and knack for hitting clutch shots. The real question for this unit comes at point guard, where Ian Miller will complete his transition to being the primary ball handler on a full time basis. Having shared the role last year with Luke Loucks, Miller will start at the point and be backed up by freshmen Devon Bookert and 6’7” Montay Brandon. Bookert is a pure point, while Brandon will likely see time at the two wing spots as well. Rounding out the backcourt components are sophomore Terry Whisnant and freshman Aaron Thomas. Whisnant will be looked upon to provide defense and hustle. Thomas could be the best incoming recruit, as he was a high-level scorer at the prep level.
The frontcourt is where the Seminoles will make or break their season. Replacing the presence of Bernard James will be the main obstacle for this group. Okaro White returns at small forward with a chance to have a breakout year. After averaging 7.7 points per game in just over 22 minutes per contest last season, the extremely athletic White looks to take on more of a leading role this year. Another potential breakout player is power forward Terrence Shannon, who missed 28 games due to injury last season. In his 7 games of play, Shannon dropped 8.3 points per game in 17.4 minutes per game. Expect these numbers to increase a good amount. Kiel Turpin, a junior college transfer who redshirted last season, may start at center and replace Jon Kreft’s role. At 7 foot tall, Turpin is only the third tallest player on his team. Freshmen centers Boris Bojanovsky (7’3”) and Michael Ojo (7’1”) are expected to enter the rotation with Turpin and provide rebounding and defense. Rounding out the frontcourt is junior college transfer Robert Gilchrist. Gilchrist, at 6’9”, provides even more size and should be the primary backup to Shannon.
In looking at Florida State’s schedule, one could make the assertion that they have one of the easier schedules both within and outside of the conference. In nonconference play, the highlights are the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, home against Minnesota in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and Florida in Tallahassee. The Seminoles open the CVC against BYU, and will then face either Notre Dame or St. Joseph’s. Minnesota is a potential top 25 team this season, and Florida is obviously the marquee matchup of the non-conference schedule. In conference play, FSU’s schedule is littered with middle-of-the-pack ACC teams. They face the preseason top 3 five times, and bottom 4 five times. The toughest stretch of conference play looks to be the opening eight games, which includes home games against both North Carolina and Duke. This is followed by a very winnable stretch of games against Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Miami, and Boston College.
Many will see the graduation of six players as enough reason to expect a major drop-off for Florida State. While this will obviously be a team that takes a little bit of time to jell, I see no reason for panic. The return of Terrence Shannon from injury could be huge, and Okaro White with an expanded role may be just what this team needs. Michael Snaer will be a star once again. I expect FSU to increase their scoring, in particular due to Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas replacing Luke Loucks and Deividas Dulkys. Look for a top 4-5 conference finish and national ranking at the least, with a chance to win the conference at the high end of expectations. At year’s end, a top 4 ACC finish and winning a game or two in the NCAA Tournament can be seen as a success for this team.
The obvious choice would be Michael Snaer, but Snaer's game hasn't always been one that can be valued in ACC Fantasy Basketball. On the other hand a player like Ian Miller who will have the ball in his hand a lot and likes to shoot should be able to earn valuable fantasy points for your team.