So now what?
It seems like a more than fair question for Florida State basketball. For years, we’ve heard the Seminoles are coming, ready to disrupt the order of the ACC, ready to firmly assert their basketball presence at the football school. But prior to the 2016-17 season, that threat equated to three NIT berths in four years.
Which is why this past season was supposed to be the season. Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac and Xavier Rathan-Mayes equated to real promise. Bacon’s decision to return to school was the real boost this program needed. And for four months, it all seemed to work as planned, the Seminoles rolling to a 25-win season, pulling in for a tie for second in the vaunted ACC and earning a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Seminoles survived an end-game scare to bounce Dunk City/Florida Gulf Coast in the first round, and then came the flameout.
All that talent, all those wins, and Florida State was eviscerated by a Xavier team that essentially had one star player left on its entire roster. Chris Mack went zone and the Seminoles went cold, eventually losing to the Musketeers 91-66 in the second round. Did we mention the game was in Florida? Yeah, it was.
It’s fair to point out that, in plenty of regards, this was still a successful year -- Florida State hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2012 and the Seminoles did win a game.
But Bacon, Isaac and Rathan-Mayes, who accounted for 47 percent of the Seminoles’ offense, have declared for the NBA draft.
Which brings us back to the original question: So now what? How quickly can Leonard Hamilton recreate the magic?
The short answer is not immediately -- or at least expecting immediately would be wildly unfair.
Guard/small forward Terance Mann and 3-point sharpshooter PJ Savoy are the only known quantities for Hamilton’s team next season, and neither was asked to do terribly much this past season. Mann averaged eight points and 25 minutes, while Savoy was more a situational player, asked to give the Seminoles some outside presence.
That leaves the task of reconstructing Florida State basketball to a five-man freshman class. Hamilton continues to shine on the recruiting trail, bringing in a group that is ranked 16th in the nation collectively, but individually there is no takeover superstar among the group.
Ikey Obiagu, a 7-foot Nigerian by way of Georgia, is the big draw. He fared well at the Nike Hoops Summit recently, showing off some strong shot-blocking skills and defensive prowess, but he’s raw offensively and is going to need some fine-tuning to adjust to the college game.
Power forwards Raiquan Gray, a traditional power forward, and Wyatt Wilkes, more of a stretch four who is deft at the mid-range game, will be good complements to Obiagu. Anthony Polite, a shooting guard who averaged 19 points in high school, will be a good injection of instant offense.
But none of these guys are as college-game-ready as Bacon and Isaac were when they first arrived in Tallahassee. This is going to take some time.
So the answer to the first question -- now what? -- is pretty simple.
Patience, Seminoles fans.