Florida State University

FSU men’s team deals with heavy personnel losses

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton answers a question during the Atlantic Coast Conference men's NCAA college basketball media day in Charlotte, N.C., Wed., Oct. 25, 2017.
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton answers a question during the Atlantic Coast Conference men's NCAA college basketball media day in Charlotte, N.C., Wed., Oct. 25, 2017. AP

Don’t expect too much.

That’s a fair warning for Seminoles fans who want an encore performance from Florida State’s 2016-2017 men’s basketball team, which finished 26-9, setting the program record for most regular-season wins. They also went undefeated at home for the first time in 41 years and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where they got routed by Xavier.

After the season, three Seminoles players bolted early, and those were FSU’s top three scorers: freshman Jonathan Isaac, sophomore Dwayne Bacon and junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Isaac, the sixth player selected in the 2017 draft, and Bacon are now in the NBA. Rathan-Mayes is in the NBA’s developmental league.

FSU also graduated 6-9 forward Jarquez Smith and 7-1 center Michael Ojo, who combined to block 60 shots.

Despite those losses, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said he was “cautiously optimistic” about this season.

“We shot the ball well this offseason,” Hamilton told FSU’s official website. “One of our Achilles’ heels last season was that we didn’t shoot well from three. I think we’ll correct that this season.”

PJ Savoy, a 6-4 junior shooting guard, is one reason for that optimism. He was tied for second on FSU in three-pointers made last season, converting on 40 percent.

“He has supreme confidence when he’s open,” Hamilton said of Savoy, who scored a team-high 19 points and made four three-pointers in last week’s exhibition win over Central Missouri. “He’s going to be instant offense for us. He’s one of the most productive offensive guys I’ve seen.”

Freshman MJ Walker, a 6-5 wing and five-star recruit from Georgia, is the player who fans are most excited about, although he could be off to the NBA in June. He scored 17 points against Central Missouri.

Terance Mann, a 6-6 junior wing, is FSU’s only returning starter after averaging 8.4 points last season. He also won FSU’s dunk contest last month.

Braian Angola-Rodas, a 6-6 senior, is another dangerous three-point shooter, making 42.0 percent from distance last season.

As usual, FSU has size — most notably 7-4 Christ Koumadje, who averaged 3.4 points and 1.1 blocks last season. Dikembe Mutombo’s nephew, 6-9 redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele, is also on the roster.

One of FSU’s biggest issues may be the lack of a proven point guard. Sophomores CJ Walker and Trent Forrest may split duties.

However, Mann, like Hamilton, is excited about the possibilities.

“This season,” Mann said, “we’re going to make a lot more threes, spread the floor and attack the lanes.”


Senior forward Shakayla Thomas, the reigning ACC Player of the Year, has been named a second-team All-American by Street & Smith’s. She’s on pace to join former teammate Leticia Romero as the only three-time All-Americans in program history.

In addition, the FSU women have been ranked in the top 15 (USA Today Coaches poll) for 50 consecutive weeks, which means nearly three years of basketball.

They finished last season ranked seventh — tying a program record — and are 14th to start this season. FSU is also picked to finish fourth in the ACC.

FSU has gone 85-20 in Thomas’ three years, reaching the Elite Eight twice and the Sweet Sixteen three times.

Thomas, who averaged 14.9 points last season, is one of five seniors on FSU’s roster. Other keys are point guard AJ Alix, a graduate transfer who averaged 13.1 points at TCU; 6-3 senior center Chatrice White, who averaged 8.9 points; and 5-9 senior guard Imani Wright, who averaged 10.7 points.