ACC Basketball Preview: Florida State

2015-16 Florida State record: 20-14 (8-10 ACC)

The Seminoles weren’t a bad team last season, but there were some puzzling losses mixed in along the way to a second round appearance in the NIT.

Florida State is always among the most athletic teams in the ACC and probably the nation as a whole. Leonard Hamilton has recruited brilliantly, and this roster looks to be one of his best.

The Seminoles’ second-leading scorer Malik Beasley is gone as are his 15.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Devon Bookert (9.5 PPG, 2.8 APG) and Boris Bojanovsky (6.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG) have also moved on.

A ton of talent is coming back including leading-scorer and 2015-16 All-ACC Freshman Team member Dwayne Bacon. Last season, Bacon averaged 15.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.0 steal per game. He was named ACC Rookie of the Week a Florida State record five times, and was named to the Julius Erving Award Watch List and 2016-17 Preseason All-ACC Second Team.

“Dwayne is a very skilled player that has great ball handling and passing skills,” Leonard Hamilton told reporters.

“Obviously he’s a good scorer, and he’s one of the best finishers around the basket that I think I’ve coached over the years.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes (11.8 PPG, 4.4 APG) is also back so as is seemingly always the case, the ‘Noles have a squad full of athletic wings between 6’6″ and 6’8” complimented by a trio of seven-footers in the post.

Technically it’s just two seven-footers this year with Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo who returns from injury. Ojo won’t be a big factor on offense, but he’s a strong shot-blocker who will help solidify the defensive end with his length and energy.

The most intriguing big man is the “smaller” 6’10”, 210-pound freshman Jonathan Isaac. He was smaller guard early in his career who had a massive growth spurt. He’s been able to maintain strong dribbling and passing skills which makes him a tough match up for defenders. He’s a dark horse pick to win ACC Freshman of the Year.

“He is more of a complete player from a skill standpoint, but what separates him, I believe, is his IQ and his team effort-type spirit, and that’s really contagious,” Hamilton said.

Junior college transfer Braian Angola-Rodas is a talented guard who provides even more depth on the wing. He averaged 21.4 points on 51 percent shooting from the field for North Idaho College. That was good enough to earn NJCAA All-America First Team honors.

In an odd scheduling move, the Seminoles don’t play a single road game in non-conference play and don’t leave home until a December tilt at #8 Virginia.

Road games weigh heavier in strength of schedule metrics which makes this choice a bit of a head-scratcher. The positive is that there are plenty of good opponents including Winthrop, Temple, Minnesota, George Washington, and Florida. That should balance out the lack of travel early assuming the ‘Noles win most of those games.

In conference, Florida State faces #1 Duke and Notre Dame twice apiece while likely bottom-dwellers Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest only appear once each.

It’s a very challenging schedule to face, but also an immensely talented roster with which to do it. If the pieces come together for Leonard Hamilton, it could be a very special season in Tallahassee.

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