March 29, 2016 - by
Bacon Wants To Improve, Lead Noles To Big Dance

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Dwayne Bacon feels he has more to do as a college basketball player, and more to prove before he turns professional. With those two goals in mind, Bacon announced earlier this week that he would return for his sophomore season at Florida State. That’s an about-face from last week, when Bacon announced he would declare for the NBA draft but not hire an agent.

And it’s great news for FSU, which recently lost Bacon’s fellow freshman, Malik Beasley, to the draft.

After talking with his family and FSU coach Leonard Hamilton, Bacon decided he’d be best served by spending another year in Tallahassee.

“It was my decision,” Bacon said Tuesday. “I knew if I had went to the draft, I could ‘just’ get drafted. But I just didn’t want to settle for ‘just’ getting drafted.

“I feel like if I came back, I could get a lot better. … My stock could maybe rise. We could go to the NCAA tournament.”

Those two things get to the heart of Bacon’s decision.

A former McDonald’s All-American and five-star prospect, Bacon has been tabbed for the NBA since high school.

And he flashed some impressive credentials in his first year at Florida State, leading the Seminoles in scoring (15.8 PPG) and rebounding (5.8 RPG) while turning in a number of highlight-reel plays.

Still, there are a number of things Bacon would like to improve before turning pro, most notably his perimeter shooting. While he shot 44.7 percent from the field last season, that number dips to just 28.1 percent from 3-point range.

And Bacon at time struggled to keep up with Hamilton’s demanding defense, which is typical for freshmen.

“I feel like I can get better at a lot of things,” Bacon said. “I don’t want to enter the draft not good at this, and then they pick me apart about this. So I want to go into the draft fully established.”

If he does that, it could be the difference between being a late first-round pick – which Bacon likely would have been had he entered this year – and being a lottery pick. Or a top-five pick.

Bacon of course dreams of playing in the NBA, but he’s willing to put that dream on hold if it means better things ahead.

“I’m not satisfied with all the work I put in all my life to ‘just’ be a first-round pick,” Bacon said. “Whatever I have to do, I’ll do it.”

He wouldn’t mind having an NCAA tournament run under his belt, either.

Bacon mentioned the tournament several times during his interview, and how he doesn’t want to be remembered as a great player who never played on college basketball’s biggest stage.

The Seminoles were on the wrong side of the bubble for this year’s tournament, and their season ended at Valparaiso in the second round of the NIT.

“Nobody wants to leave college and not have a tournament appearance,” Bacon said. “I think that’s just crazy. All good players, at least I think so, make the tournament and do good things.”

He pointed to Syracuse – a team that FSU beat earlier this season – as an example of what can happen when a team finds its stride at the right time. The Orange entered the tournament as a No. 10 seed, but made a surprise run to this weekend’s Final Four.

“They went in with a ‘fight’ attitude,” Bacon said. “It’s just the drive that you’ve got to have as a team. We had that some games, but we didn’t have it every game.

“If we come back this year and we work all summer and we come back and work all preseason, maybe we can have that same drive that they had.”

“This is what we've wanted all season,” she said. “You don't want a cupcake game, you want a ‘get-after-it' game. That's what it's going to be like when you roll into Oklahoma City, too. So, we've trained for it. And we want this. I'm completely excited about it.”
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