Behind shot-blocking big man Solomon Alabi and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year Chris Singleton, the Seminoles hung their hat on their defense. They led the nation in field goal percentage defense while only allowing about 60 points per game. That style of play will once again be implored for Leonard Hamilton's team but they should also have more firepower on the offensive end as well.
The 6-9 Singleton leads a big frontcourt that must replace Alabi and Ryan Reid, who were both selected in the second round of the NBA Draft. Seven-foot JUCO transfer Jon Kreft could step in for Alabi right away while backup Xavier Gibson is being considered the x-factor for this Florida State team.
At 6-11, Gibson is loaded with all the tools to be an impact big man. He is athletic and a talented shot blocker, and can also shoot the rock from the outside. If he can seize his opportunity, Florida State will be as good as advertised and Gibson becomes a true NBA prospect. JUCO transfer Bernard James, freshman Okaro White, and Terrence Shannon provide the depth inside.
It will be interesting to see which route Hamilton takes this season with the starting five... Going big by playing Singleton at the three or putting a three-guard lineup on the floor with Singleton starting at the four.
The backcourt is deep and talented to enough to put three players in the starting lineup. Derwin Kitchen should be joined by Michael Snaer and/or Deivadis Dulkys depending on which look the Seminoles start. Snaer is a talented all-around scorer while Dulkys is Florida State's top three-point shooter. Luke Loucks will once again play a significant role off the bench while people are excited about Ian Miller's potential as well.
Florida State will once again have the size and defensive attitude to be near the top of the ACC standings. If they can find the consistent scoring from Singleton, Gibson and whoever steps up in the backcourt, they could push Virginia Tech and North Carolina to see who finishes behind Duke in the conference.
Player to Watch: Bernard James, F/C
Here is an interesting story. James joins Florida State after transferring from Tallahassee Community College. That is not the interesting part. What is intriguing about James is that he will turn 26 years old in February.
He enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 17 and served a 6-year term having spent time deployed in the Middle East. James was cut from his high school basketball team and did not begin playing organized ball until he joined the Armed Forces. He brings a physicality down low that should fit in perfectly for the Seminoles.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/28 vs. Florida
11/30 vs. Ohio State (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
12/22 vs. Hawaii (Diamond Head Classic)
12/23 vs. Butler/Utah (Diamond Head Classic)
12/25 vs. Baylor/San Diego/Mississippi State/Washington State (Diamond Head Classic)
I had the Panthers taking a right tackle with the last pick of the second round for weeks. I thought it would be David Sharpe, but Moton is a good pick and is a physical blocker to open holes for Christian McCaffrey.