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Florida State Is an Intriguing Dark Horse out of the ACC

Intriguing. That’s what the Florida State basketball program is right now. Despite missing the NCAA Tournament the past three seasons, the Seminoles have a group together that could surprise many in the ACC this year.

Florida State finished with an overall record of 17-16 and an 8-10 showing in the ACC to finish ninth in conference. The Noles failed to advance to any postseason tournament for the first time in 10 years after taking part in the NIT in both 2012 and 2013.

However, 14th-year Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton likes the mix Florida State has with all five starters returning from a season ago along with five freshmen with plenty of talent.

”I think we have a pretty good combination of experience and an influx of new players. Any time you have that type of scenario you appreciate it,” Hamilton said via Yahoo Sports. ”It looks like we have it moving in the right direction. We’ve had a good offseason and regrouped.”

The ‘Noles have 10 players who’ve played over 600 career collegiate games which includes eight who’ve made starts.

The team’s leading scorer from a year ago sophomore guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who averaged 14.9 PPG is expected to the be the key offensive piece once again. The Canadian-born guard comes from Huntington Prep (WV), the same high school program that had Kansas star and current Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins.

Rathan-Mayes became the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 or more points three times a year ago with 35 points against both North Carolina and Miami and 30 points against Clemson. In those three games, Rathan-Mayes connected on over 50 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Senior guards Montay Brandon and Devon Bookert are back once again after both averaged over 10 PPG last season. Brandon averaged 11.8 PPG and 5.5 RPG while Bookert put up 10.1 PPG and 3.6 RPG.

Pair the trio mentioned above with the trio of impressive freshmen and FSU has one of the most athletic backcourts in the ACC. Five-star commit and Oak Hill star Dwyane Bacon joins the ‘Noles along with four-star commits Malik Beasley and Terrance Mann.

Bacon was a Naismith 1st-Team All-American and the Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year as he averaged 24.4 PPG and amassed 1,119 for the season. Beasley was pretty impressive as well as he won the Georgia 1-A Player of The Year award after averaging 22.2 PPG and 7.0 RPG as a senior at St. Francis (Ga.). Also, New Hampshire Gatorade Player of The Year, Mann was pretty solid with averages of 23.1 PPG and 7.3 RPG at Tilton (N.H.)

Yes, Jean Marc Christ Koumadje is the tallest of three 7-footers on the FSU roster. He comes from the Florida high school powerhouse Montverde Academy, the same school that starred current LSU freshman Ben Simmons and Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard De’Angelo Russell. The ‘Noles also have 7-3 senior center Boris Bojanovsky and 7-1 senior center Michael Ojo on the roster.

FSU has the ability to use a small lineup and trust its 7-footers to command the net and play shutdown defense. That will help its guards play as much as possible, the position of strength on Hamilton’s roster currently.

The Seminoles have only advanced to the tournament four times in Hamilton’s 13 seasons as the man in charge, but with a veteran group and two freshmen ranked in ESPN’s top-30 players of the 2015 class things are looking up in Tallahassee.

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