ACC Basketball: 2015-2016 Florida State Seminoles Season Preview

Florida State Seminoles

17-16 (8-10 ACC) in 2014-2015

Key Returning Players

  • PG Xavier Rathan-Mayes
  • G Montay Brandon
  • G Devon Bookert


  • G Aaron Thomas (left program, signed with an agent)
  • F Kiel Turpin (graduation)
  • PG Dayshawn Watkins (transferred to Arkansas-Little Rock)


  • SG Dwayne Bacon, ESPN 5-star recruit (Ranked #2 in ESPN100 for 2015 class)
  • SG Malik Beasley, ESPN 4-star recruit (Ranked #28 in ESPN100 for 2015 class)
  • SG Terrence Mann, ESPN 4-star recruit (Ranked #86 in ESPN100 for 2015 class)
  • C Jean Marc Christ Koumadje, ESPN 4-star recruit
  • G Benji Bell (Juco from Northwest Florida State College)




Slow starts in both the non-conference and conference schedule plagued last year’s Seminoles team. Having the worst turnover margin in the ACC didn’t help matters either when FSU desperately scraped together wins down the stretch to stay above .500 for the regular season.

Looking at this season, there is really no excuse for head coach Leonard Hamilton (14th season) not to win 20-plus regular season games. I’m not going to suggest that patience is wearing thin, but it’s been three years since FSU’s last NCAA appearance. With one of Hamilton’s most talented rosters in recent memory, this team is primed for what could be a magical season similar to the 2010-2011 campaign when they reached the Sweet Sixteen.

While FSU lost a few bodies from last year’s team, none of the departures were major contributors (PG Aaron Thomas was a terrific scorer, but was declared ineligible early on). Add in the fact that FSU will have one of the most experienced teams in the nation (returns 87% of its scoring and 89% of its rebounding from last season) to pair with a top-10 recruiting class, and this team has the makings for a fun and interesting season. In this day and age of college basketball, it’s often a rarity and a luxury to have a roster made of veteran leaders to pair with blue-chip freshmen.

In an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, coach Hamilton may have summed it up best:

“Having quality veterans returning and talented youngsters coming in, I think that it really gives us the right blend that hopefully this will be a year we will be back to where we’ve been in the past.”

Perhaps the one issue for coach Hamilton is to find a way to properly mix in the youngsters (namely uber-recruits Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley) into the rotation and find the right fit for everybody. But, he’s been coaching long enough to the point where he shouldn’t have any trouble with getting everyone on the same page.

However, in order for the Seminoles to take the next step and advance in the ACC pecking order, they must get improved play from last year’s leading scorer, sophomore Xavier Rathan-Mayes (14.9 ppg). That may seem weird to say considering Rathan-Mayes is viewed as one of the top players in the ACC, but he does have some flaws. In particular, turnovers (nine games with five or more turnovers) and three-point shooting (28.1 3PT%) were his biggest bugaboos. If he can cut down on the mistakes, distribute the ball better and not take as many ill-advised shots, that could go a long way toward helping the team take the next step.


 Schedule and Prediction

Outside of facing Iowa on the road (Dec. 2) in the non-conference, the first two months of the season should be relatively smooth sailing for the ‘Noles. They will participate in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam Tournament in late November, but the competition (Hofstra, DePaul, Indiana St., Ohio, South Carolina, Tulsa and Norfolk St.) is pretty manageable. If FSU is able to get out of the gates strong (unlike last season) and play up to the potential of their roster, they should breeze through pretty much all of their opponents during the first two months of the season.

Looking at their ACC schedule (which is tough for any team), they should match up pretty well against the teams they face twice (Miami, Clemson, Syracuse and NC State). It’s not inconceivable they beat Miami and Clemson twice, and split games against ‘Cuse and NC State. While it’s always going to be difficult to take down blue bloods like UNC and Virginia, the ‘Noles at least get to face them at home.

When you add it all up (one of the nation’s best backcourts, a deep roster and a pretty favorable schedule), this is a team poised to win anywhere between 20-23 games and finish in the top half of the conference. Of course, a lot of it depends on if FSU can get rid of last season’s warts (slow starts, injuries and turnovers). If so, they should get a decent seed in the NCAA tourney come March.

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