Heels, ‘Noles Move Forward After Wiggins Decision

Okaro White will be Florida State's leading returning scorer in 2013-14.
Okaro White will be charged with leading Florida State after Andrew Wiggins committed to Kansas.

Andrew Wiggins, one of the most-hyped prospects in the 2013 basketball recruiting class, chose Kansas today over Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida State.  While Kansas fans celebrate and the supporters of the other three schools lament, everyone involved can now move forward with a better idea of how their rosters look for 2013-14 and make the necessary moves for the remainder of the offseason.

For North Carolina, Wiggins could have filled a hole on the wing left by the departure of junior Reggie Bullock.  Bullock averaged 14.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this season for the Tar Heels, entering his name into the NBA Draft this offseason.  While Wiggins isn’t a shooter of Bullock’s caliber, his athleticism would have made a great addition to the North Carolina offense.

Still, UNC has the benefit of both a returning core of players from this season’s squad, which finished third in the ACC regular season and lost out to Miami in an exciting ACC Tournament final.  65.9 percent of the offense from last year’s team returns, led by PJ Hairston and James Michael McAdoo.

The Tar Heels also have plenty of other talent recruits joining the fold for next season.  Those newcomers include five-star power forward Isaiah Hicks and top-five center Kennedy Meeks.  With the upgrade in the frontcourt, Roy Williams’ squad hopes to be more balanced than in 2012-13, when a midseason shift to a smaller, four-guard lineup turned North Carolina’s fortunes for the better.

Thus, Wiggins would have been a nice addition for the Tar Heels, but there is still plenty of reason to consider North Carolina one of the stronger teams in the conference next season. Perhaps Duke will be the favorites in the preseason to win the ACC, but North Carolina will be in the mix, along with Virginia and Syracuse.

However, many considered Florida State a front runner for Wiggins, as both of Wiggins’ parents are FSU alum.  Andrew’s father, Mitchell Wiggins, was a first-round NBA draft pick after his career at Florida State, while mother Marita Payne-Wiggins was on the Seminole track team and earned silver medals for Canada in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Landing Wiggins would have been a huge coup for the Seminoles, who are experiencing an exodus.  Michael Snaer is graduating, while Terrance Shannon and Terry Whisnant have announced they will transfer this offseason.

Snaer averaged 14.8 points per game as a senior for the Seminoles, leading the team in scoring.  However, Snaer is best known for his late-game heroics. Six times during his time in Tallahassee, Snaer defeated ACC opponents with late game-winning baskets, including five in the last two seasons.  However, his efforts were only enough to get Florida State to the NIT one year after winning the ACC Championship.

Shannon would have been second among returning scorers on next year’s Florida State roster, averaging 7.9 points per game as a redshirt junior. The redshirt for Shannon came when his 2011-12 season was cut short after just seven games with an injury.  In fact, that has been a recurring theme for Shannon during his career, which will resume next fall at Virginia Commonwealth.  Shannon has played 72 games over four years at Florida State due to injuries, most recently a neck injury suffered in a scary collision in a 56-36 loss to Virginia.

As for Whisnant, his playing time improved considerably as a sophomore. Whisnant made 35.6 percent of his three-point attempts in 2012-13, including a 4-for-7 game against North Carolina in January.  However, his minutes decreased as the season played out, and Whisnant hopes to go to a school with a more up-tempo style where he will have more minutes and more freedom to shoot.

So who will be available for Florida State?  Rising senior Okaro White will be the team’s leading returning scorer, averaging 12.4 points per game last year.  The 6’8” forward has improved with each season and should have a strong farewell campaign. The Seminoles also return sharp-shooter Devon Bookert, and four-star prospect Montay Brandon should see more action in his sophomore season.

Ian Miller should also be healthier in 2012-13. Miller was a 35-percent three-point shooter as a freshman and sophomore, making him a key reserve on that Florida State ACC Championship team. However, nagging injuries limited his production as a junior.  With an offseason to recuperate and prepare for his final season, he could be another player that steps up for Florida State next season.

On the recruiting front, Florida State fans shouldn’t consider this year a flop with the Wiggins loss. Leonard Hamilton still secured commitments from two four-star recruits: Shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes and center Jarquez Smith.  Rathan-Mayes is another excellent shooter, widely considered one of the top 100 players in this year’s recruiting class.  Smith has a strong face-up game that could put him as the power forward in Florida State’s offense, although he’d likely have to wait his turn behind White.

Florida State will likely be a good if not great, ACC team in 2013-14.  There are plenty of capable players to prevent them from falling to the depths of Clemson’s or Virginia Tech’s previous campaigns.  However, Wiggins could have bumped Florida State to the next level in the conference. They are the biggest losers of the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes, but that won’t be enough to make them one of the biggest losers in the conference next year.


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