TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The Florida State men’s basketball team begins a 12-day, three-game trip to Jamaica on Saturday as two-time ACC Coach of the Year Leonard Hamilton and his team look to get an early jump on the 2017-18 season.
The NCAA allows schools to take foreign exhibition tours every four years. The teams are also allowed 10 practice sessions in preparation for the trip. The additional practices generally give schools a jump on preparing for the regular season with practice for the 2017-18 season beginning in early October. This year’s trip is Florida State’s first since touring Greece prior to the 2013-14 season.
“This trip is coming at a perfect time for our basketball program,” said Hamilton. “We have a lot of first and second-year players – the majority of our players on our roster are underclassmen. Anytime you have the unique and special opportunity to get extra practices in, develop a camaraderie and work on the skills that we need to compete at this level it’s a great thing for your team. I am very excited about this opportunity.”
The Seminoles will play two games against the Jamaican Select team and one against the Jamaican Under 21 National Team. The Jamaican Select team is comprised of national players from the country who are playing professionally throughout Europe. The Seminoles’ games against the Select Team are scheduled for August 10th in Montego Bay and August 14th in Kingston. Florida State’s third and final game against the Under 21 National team is scheduled for August 16th in Kingston.
Florida State returns five players who played at least 35 games, seven who averaged at least 10 minutes played per game and welcomes its fifth consecutive top-15 recruiting class to its roster. Forward Terance Mann returns as the Seminoles’ leading scorer (8.4 ppg) and rebounder (4.5 rpg) after starting 34 of 35 games as a sophomore. Sophomores CJ Walker and Trent Forrest, along with Braian Angola-Rodas and PJ Savoy will anchor the Seminoles’ backcourt while 7-4 center Christ Koumadje patrols the paint.
“This is a culturally enriching opportunity for our players,” said Hamilton. “We definitely want to soak it in and educate ourselves about the culture. We are going to get a lot of work in, too. Every time we get the opportunity, we are going to try to keep improving in the areas we need to be sharp in once we get into the season.”
CJ Walker, who will travel outside of the United States for the first time, is especially excited.
“The process has been fun,” said Walker. “From getting our passports and looking forward to going outside of the country to play basketball, the preparation has been really good for us. The chemistry we are going to gain is going to help us a lot. For us to have this opportunity, we have to be grateful.”
The Seminoles’ recruiting class – headlined by McDonald’s All-American M.J. Walker – is once again one of the top groups of newcomers in the ACC. Joining Walker is 7-0 newcomer Ikey Obiagu, 6-8 power forward Raiquan Gray, guard Anthony Polite and forward Wyatt Wilkes.
Florida State was ranked as high as No. 6 nationally last season and finished the season ranked 16th by the Associated Press and 24th in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Seminoles tied the school record with seven victories over nationally ranked teams and came within one victory of tying the school record for wins in a season with a 26-9 record.
“We want to have an overall development period and take advantage of it in all parts – camaraderie, skill development and system implementation,” said Hamilton.