Overrated. (Clap, clap, clap-clap, clap). Even though the Seminoles lost six valuable seniors from last season's team that won the ACC Tournament, the team is still ranked 24th in the preseason coaches' poll. As you can tell by my ranking, that's way too high for a squad that will have to rely on a lot of inexperienced players in key roles.
The biggest thing going for Florida State this season is the returning backcourt of Michael Snaer and Ian Miller. The duo has played well during its time in Tallahassee, but will need to have breakout seasons for the Seminoles to even come close to reaching last year's success. Both guys are capable scorers but also have the ability to run the point. Snaer steps into the leadership role and is considered by many as an All-American candidate, which seems a bit much to me.
Sophomore Terry Whisnant will likely step into the starting lineup after barely seeing the floor last season due to a plethora of depth and experience in the backcourt. He will be pushed though by freshmen wings Montay Brandon and Aaron Thomas. Brandon is more of a pure scorer, while Thomas relies on his length and athleticism to be effective. Devon Bookert will be able to run the point if needed.
Florida State has to replace some valuable size and experience up front with Bernard James, Xavier Gibson, and Jon Kreft finishing up their collegiate careers. The undersized, but physical, Terrence Shannon returns after suffering a season-ending dislocated shoulder in 2011. He will be joined in the starting frontcourt by Okaro White, who is an athletic freak with a fairly well-rounded offensive game.
Trying to replace the size inside will be a trio of seven-footers. Junior college transfer Kiel Turpin is the most ready to contribute right away. He redshirted last season and has a decent mid-range game for a seven-footer. 7-3 Boris Bojanovsky is a bit of a project as is the huge 7-1, 290 pounder, Michael Ojo. That is a ton of size for Leonard Hamilton to work with, and he has a solid track record of developing true big men during his tenure with the Seminoles. Freshman Robert Gilchrist will hope to replace Antwan Space, who transferred to Texas A&M.
With so much youth and inexperience on the roster, it is hard for me to pick Florida State any higher than this. In typical Hamilton fashion, the Seminoles will rely on their ruggedness on both ends, but will need Snaer and Miller to have special seasons if the team hopes to compete with N.C. State, UNC, or Duke in the ACC.
Player to Watch: Michael Snaer, SG
Known as one of the best lockdown perimeter defenders in college basketball, Snaer made the bold claim this offseason that he is the best shooting guard in the country. Snaer can also get it done on the offensive as he connected on 40.4% of his triple tries a year ago, including a game-winner to upset Duke.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 vs. BYU (Coaches vs. Cancer in Brooklyn)
11/17 vs. Notre Dame/St. Joseph's (Coaches vs. Cancer in Brooklyn)