By: Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
Basketball scouts call him the best high school prospect since Lebron James; Noles fans call him a pipe dream. The nation’s number one basketball recruit, Andrew Wiggins, committed to the University of Kansas on Tuesday crushing the dreams of Florida State coaches and fans.
I was skeptical to believe that the Seminoles led for the services of this all-decade player, but I couldn’t help but be quietly excited about the possibility of having a player of this caliber come to Tallahassee. The hype surrounding him would have immediately put Florida State’s mediocre basketball program on the map, and possibly in contention. With the additions of former Big East powerhouses, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, Wiggins would have given the Noles the boost needed to compete at a high level in this prestigious basketball conference.
Unfortunately, Wiggins signed with Kansas, further enhancing their own tradition of producing great players, teams, and championships. The inevitable step for Leonard Hamilton and his Seminole basketball team is to move on with his current team and not get caught up in what could have been.
At the end of the day, Florida State basketball is the third sport of importance to the administration behind football and baseball. The basketball program lacks the support and funds to bring this program to the top. It’s evident that FSU cannot duke it out for a top recruit, as Wiggins was their first, and possible last chance at such a high profile player. Even with both of his parents being athletes and alumni of Florida State, the Noles just couldn’t offer the same things as the traditional basketball powerhouses could.
The Civic Center is in major need of an upgrade, but the estimates were around $100 million, much more than the basketball program is capable of being awarded. I tip my hat to Leonard Hamilton and the staff, as they gave it their best fight to reel in such a talented player, but in the end it was an insurmountable task when the “big boys” came knocking on Wiggins door. Florida State will have to make do with their current players, which are not lacking in talent.
There is still good news for Hamilton, as he is bringing in two extremely talented high school players that should be able to find the court early on as freshman. Hamilton is notorious for having a large rotation and letting numerous guys get into the action, allowing freshman to get a taste of the limelight from an early age. This strategy bodes well for the two recruits, Jarquez Smith and Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
Smith is a 6 foot 9 power forward who is extremely talented defensively as well as offensively. He averages a double-double, along with an eye opening 7.5 blocks per game. He could come in for the Seminoles and provide some athletic power along with much needed strength to the power forward position. Possibly moving Okaro White to small forward, where he would be a mismatch problem for opponents. Though White is 6 foot 8 himself, he has a slender build, causing him to get knocked around by bigger players. He is extremely athletic for his size and could really be a thorn in a lot of teams’ side if he was moved to the 3 spot where he would be bigger than his opponents.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes is a high school teammate and childhood friend of Andrew Wiggins, furthering many people’s speculations that Wiggins would choose FSU. However, Rathan-Mayes is a talented player in his own right. He is the ideal shooting guard that has good ball handling, court vision, and a pure quick release shot. In his game tape, I was excited to see his ability to create dribble penetration. Many shooters in the past were almost liabilities to the offense when they were not on fire because they could not dribble (Dulkys and Wisnant come to mind). Xavier has also shown impressive court vision darting passes into the lane from the top of the key to a cutting teammate.
With the Seminoles consistently lacking offensive zest, it will be nice to have dynamic players like XRM and Jarquez Smith on our side. The Seminoles were extremely young last year, and if healthy, could be competitive this upcoming season in the new-look ACC.
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