Sleeper Team of the Year: Florida State Seminoles
by Ryan Hill
Fans in Tallahassee have a lot to be excited about especially with a chance to be competing for a conference title, a feat that has not been completed by FSU since 2012. The ‘Noles have more than enough returning talent to make some serious noise, not only in the ACC, but to be a problem for the entire nation. Head coach Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles suffered only one key loss via attrition this year, that was in the interior, but the void is filled through seniors and recruiting. The ‘Noles returning nearly 90% of the team’s offense from last year, but the job Hamilton and his staff have done on the recruiting trail is more impressive. This may be the best recruiting class in school history, ranking third in the nation. The future looks bright.
A seasoned backcourt will be leading the charge as Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Montay Brandon, and Devon Bookert are the only three players from last year’s squad to have averaged in double figures, they provide crucial leadership and scoring for this young team. Rathan-Mayes is an exceptional sophomore who can score it effortlessly. Anyone who is constantly tuned into college basketball remembers just a year ago, Mayes hanging 30 points on Miami in the last four minutes of the game. My Expectation is that Rathan-Mayes will finish as an All-ACC selection. Montay Brandon returns as the team’s leading rebounder but standing at 6’8 he is very versatile on both ends of the floor. He’s capable of filling the stat sheet on a nightly basis. Devon Bookert will have a big impact on this team whether he starts or not. He is the team’s leading 3-point shooter, and consider rookie Dwayne Bacon will start right away, I think Bookert will be in the mix for the Six Man of the Year award.
If I had to point out a flaw on this team, production on the interior may be the one problem this team faces. However, Phil Cofer and Michael Ojo who both played significant minutes last year, give the Seminoles hope for some solid front court play this season.