The Daily Nole

FSU Basketball: 2017-18 Preview and Predictions

Perrone Ford/FSU athletics

The ongoing catastrophe that is 2017 fall Florida State athletics has brought little satisfaction for Seminole fans. Each program of football, volleyball, and soccer have fallen short of their preseason expectations. The first two by a shocking amount. Not surprisingly, patience is wearing thin.

Enter Florida State basketball.

In a surprising twist, the FSU basketball program (both men’s and women’s teams) might turn out to be the shining light of FSU athletics. Everyone knows the women’s team has become a staple in the top 10.

But the men’s team has experienced a bit of a turnaround in expectation. Right after last season’s disappointing NCAA Tournament showing, we published an article examining the near future of the program. It was fairly neutral, if not foreboding.

Since then, Florida State hit a home run on the recruiting trail. The Seminoles got the No. 28 overall player in the nation, per the 247Sports Composite rankings, to commit as 4-star shooting guard M.J. Walker joined the class in May, and immediately the discussion around the team turned to another NCAA Tournament appearance. Walker is a ready-to-start type of player whose offensive gifts are greatly needed on the current team.

Will that be enough to put them over the edge? Head coach Leonard Hamilton knows that last season’s finish sits well with nobody. It was likely the most talented team that will come through Tallahassee in quite some time. It’s up to him to figure out a way to excel this year after losing four starters.

The Daily Nole has been keeping our readers updated throughout the offseason with the happenings around the program. We now have our predictions for the results of the upcoming season. Contributing to this article are editor Mike Ferguson and staff writer Clint Eiland:

Offensive MVP

Clint, Mike: M.J. Walker will make an immediate impact in much the same way that Malik Beasley, Dwayne Bacon, and Jonathan Isaac did before him. He is a versatile guard who possesses a variety of strengths when it comes to offense. Whether it’s mid-range, driving, or outside shooting, Walker is already exciting or at least has the tools to become it. He brings the one thing that the 2017-18 team desperately needs: a reliable scorer who can hit from anywhere on the court.

Defensive MVP

Clint, Mike: Chris Koumadje, at 7-foot-4, showed more defensive ability in the paint last season than pretty much every Florida State big man of the past four years. He is a fantastic shot disruptor, and even when the block numbers are not piling up, Koumadje’s presence inside forces teams to look elsewhere for potential baskets. Koumadje also has a real competitive edge to him that frustrates any opposing player trying to go at him. He will get in your face and he will let you know what he thinks of your game.

Breakout Player

Clint: Mfiondu Kabengele seems like an off-the-wall pick. Kabengele is a redshirt freshman post player who was kept under wraps last year due to the satisfactory depth in front of him. He has since reportedly lost 20 pounds and improved in every aspect of his game. In limited time during the exhibition contests, Kabengele was an offensive force. If he’s even slightly ahead of schedule in his development, Kabengele will be getting major minutes sooner than anticipated.

Mike: Trent Forrest is a another match-up headache for any opposing team. He’s an imposing wing player (6-5 and 215 pounds) who has tons of natural scoring ability and a complete willingness to commit on defense. Veteran players were ahead of him last year. But now with the amount of departures that took place, Forrest can finally get starter-level minutes and showcase his high ceiling.


Clint: C.J. Walker finishes with 12 points per game on 40 percent shooting, five assists per game, and one steal per game.

Mike: Terance Mann drops 14.1 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game, 3.6 assists per game, 1.4 steals per game on 53 percent shooting.

Most Glaring Question

Clint: Can Hamilton Revive the Junkyard Dogs? – A few changes have necessitated a shift in the Florida State basketball identity. In a sense, the question should ask more generally “can FSU regain its defensive prowess?” While few expect Hamilton to try and completely mold his team into a defensive powerhouse, it’s also not out of line to expect him to try and make it a neutral part of the team. Last year’s squad was downed in part by their defensive collapses and the number of players who gave less than acceptable effort. The Seminoles simply do not have the firepower to make up for such deficiencies this year. That means the defense will have to figure itself out quickly.

Mike: How Does FSU Replace Its Top Three Scorers? – No returning player has averaged more than 8.4 points per game. Guys like Terance Mann and C.J. Walker are great pieces, but they have never had the offensive load put on their shoulders. Florida State has been blessed with hyper-talented scorers like Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon, but it remains unclear if M.J. Walker can replicate that sort of success. The Seminoles’ offense is largely banking on current players improving and an unknown piece. That’s some shaky ground to stand on.

Record/Postseason Prediction

Clint: 22-14 overall. Florida State manages a tough conference schedule and finishes at 18-12 in the regular season with a .500 ACC record. The Seminoles then advance one round in the conference tournament before a disappointing loss. After just missing out as a bubble team, they head to the NIT and get all the way to the Final Four.

Mike: 21-13 overall. After a 9-9 season in conference, the Seminoles only muster one win in the ACC Tournament before just barely sneaking in to March Madness. They are still bounced in the round of 64 or one of the four play-in games.

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