The Daily Nole

FSU Basketball: 2018-19 Season Outlook

Mike Olivella/FSU athletics

Head coach Leonard Hamilton shocked everybody during the 2017-18 season. Not even Hamilton’s most ardent supporters could’ve predicted an Elite Eight run for a Florida State team that lost four starters in the offseason.

Three of those former starters are in the NBA, yet the Seminoles faltered in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed the year prior. Was this really as good as it gets for FSU basketball?

Evidently not.

The Seminoles entered the NCAA Tournament with minimal expectations after a quick loss in the ACC Tournament. The regular season boasted wins over three top-15 teams and breakout years from forward Phil Cofer and guard Braian Angola, to name a couple. Florida State proceeded to reel off three victories in the tournament and nearly come away with a fourth over the eventual national runner-up Michigan Wolverines.

Now the Seminoles return a fair amount of the production from that impressive run. While they lose valuable minutes from Braian Angola, Ike Obiagu and C.J. Walker, Florida State rotated enough last season to give the non-starters plenty of experience. By the end of the year, starters were getting nearly as much play time as the backups.

The Daily Nole will have more material coming about the basketball team before the season tips off on Nov. 6. Here’s a quick snapshot at what the team returns and what they’re bringing in.

Who Returns?

Phil Cofer (R-Sr., F)
PJ Savoy (Sr., G)
Terance Mann (Sr., G)
Christ Koumadje (Sr., C)
Trent Forrest (Jr., G)
Mfiondu Kabengele (R-So., F)
MJ Walker (So., G/F)
Wyatt Wilkes (So., G)
Raiquan Gray (R-Fr., F)
Anthony Polite (R-Fr., G)

Notably missing is center Ike Obiagu. Obiagu was responsible for a team-high 71 blocks in 34 appearances last season and was expected to play a major role this season. Instead, he announced his transfer and left FSU somewhat thin at the frontcourt positions. Sources close to Florida State’s program told The Daily Nole that Obiagu’s transfer stemmed from an off-the-court issue. It was serious enough that the coaches encouraged Obiagu to leave the team.

Who’s New?

G David Nichols (Sr.) – Nichols is the first of two transfers into the program. He previously played for the Albany Great Danes, where he averaged over 16 points per game, three assists per game, and one steal per game in his combined two years of starting. He also shot around 36 percent from 3-point range. Nichols is coming in to fill the role of departed point guard C.J. Walker. He has a similar small build and identical strengths, which include driving to the basket and focusing on steals when defending. It’s unclear if he’ll be starting early in his time at FSU or whether Leonard Hamilton will opt for a starting guard combo of Trent Forrest and Terance Mann.

G/F Devin Vassell (Fr.) – The lone recruit in Florida State’s 2018 class will likely redshirt this year. Vassell comes out of Georgia as the 200th-ranked recruit in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite, though Florida State was much higher on him than the recruiting services suggested. That’s probably because Vassell can do it all. He can drive to the rim or spot up and shoot from beyond the arc with little difficulty. He also played for a school that used a full court press defense for the entirety of its games, so he’s already more polished of a defender than most prospects who are the main offensive options for their high schools. Vassell is still just 6-foot-5 and 170 pounds at the moment. He’ll need time to bulk up and prepare for the college game.

F Malik Osborne (R-So.) – A transfer from Rice University, Osborne will sit out the 2018-19 season.

What Did They Do Last Season?

Florida State blew by expectations with a 20-10 regular season record along with an incredible Elite Eight run. The Seminoles defeated No. 8 seed Missouri, No. 1 seed Xavier, and No. 4 seed Gonzaga before falling to the Michigan Wolverines in the West Region final. Their ACC record came out to 9-9 in the regular season and 0-1 in the conference tournament.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s College Basketball Ratings, the FSU offensive and defensive efficiency numbers ranked 43rd and 33rd, respectively.

Where Are They Ranked?

CBS Sports tabbed Florida State as No. 14 in its top 25 rankings published back in June. Sporting News has FSU a little bit lower at No. 19 in the September article. SBNation concurred with a No. 19 ranking. Athlon Sports ranked FSU 16th. Finally, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) puts the Seminoles at No. 33.

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