The Daily Nole

Hot Take Tuesday: Trent Forrest is FSU’s Most Clutch Player Since Michael Snaer

Mike Olivella/FSU athletics

When it comes to clutch shooting, there isn’t a Florida State player and maybe not a player anywhere who can hold a candle to Michael Snaer.

A California native and McDonald’s All-American, Snaer hit six game-winning shots in the final five seconds during his FSU career. Snaer is the all-time leader in buzzer beaters with the most notable being his 3-pointer as time expired to sink Duke in 2012.

Duplicating the number of clutch shots that Snaer made during his time will be tough, if not impossible, but the most clutch FSU player since is currently on the roster and representing the program at ACC Operation Basketball. That player is senior guard Trent Forrest.

Over his first three seasons with the program, Forrest and the Seminoles have averaged 26 wins per season, including a program-record 29 last season. Had it not been for the Chipley native’s late-game heroics in recent years, there is a very good chance that FSU would not have had nearly the success that it has.

During the 2017-18 season, the Seminoles reached the Elite Eight for the first time in 25 years, but on Selection Sunday, they were a team squarely on the bubble. To get the at-large berth and the No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, FSU had to win a lot of close games and Forrest made clutch plays late in many of them.

Florida State got off to a less than ideal start in conference at 1-3 as it played a key game at home against Syracuse in January 2018. The Orange used a late 3-pointer to force overtime and led 82-80 with less than a minute to play in the extra period before a Forrest jumper evened things up. In the second overtime, the Seminoles outscored Syracuse 27-16 to pull away for a 101-90 victory.

Against Clemson on Feb. 14, 2018, the Seminoles were facing a virtual must-win to stay on the right side of the bubble. FSU had erased an 18-point deficit, but trailed by six with less than 90 seconds to play. After baskets from Terance Mann and Phil Cofer, it was Forrest who would force overtime with a contested lay-in with less than 10 seconds to play.

In the overtime period, FSU fell behind by four, but Forrest scored back-to-back baskets to put the Seminoles ahead for good before knocking down two clutch free throws in an 81-79 victory.

Those late-game heroics continued into Forrest’s junior year last season. In an early-season top-20 match-up at the AdvoCare Invitational, FSU found itself down by two points to LSU with time ticking away before Forrest tied the game on a drive to the basket with two seconds remaining to force overtime. With the contest tied 76-76 in the extra period, Forrest assisted on Mfiondu Kabengele’s game-winning 3-pointer with a second to play as the Seminoles prevailed, 79-76.

Two games later, FSU hosted Purdue in a top-20 ACC/Big Ten Challenge showdown. FSU led most of the way, but Purdue rallied to take an 8-point lead in the second half. With the lead whittled down to one, Forrest came up with a steal and the game-winning runner with less than six seconds to play. Forrest’s second steal in about 12 seconds sealed the 83-82 victory.

On Feb. 9 against Louisville, the Seminoles trailed by 10 at home in the second half, but rallied to tie the game. After Louisville went back ahead on a pair of free throws, Forrest tied the game with a driving layup with 35 seconds remaining. The Seminoles would score the first eight points in overtime before holding off Louisville, 80-75, for a fifth straight ACC win.

Forrest has not only played well with the game on the line, but he’s had big games with the season on the line. In last season’s Sweet 16 loss to Gonzaga, Forrest single-handedly kept the Seminoles in it, finishing with 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting to go with five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

The year prior, FSU’s NCAA Tournament fate was likely decided in a Senior Day contest with Boston College. Forrest finished the day with 21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals. In that one, FSU trailed 69-64 with less than eight minutes to play, but Forrest would score eight points and assist on three of the four baskets he didn’t score over the final stretch in an 85-76 victory. He also had the 3-point play that tied the game with 5:37 before Braian Angola’s dunk put the Seminoles ahead for good.

Over the last two seasons, Forrest has five shots in the final minute to either tie or win games. Now a senior, Forrest is the longest tenured player on the roster and one of the most clutch ever. With six seniors departing from last season, Forrest is expected to be a leader on the team and head coach Leonard Hamilton and company know he’s a guy they can turn to with the game on the line.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at Mike@TheDailyNole.com.

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