Dec. 20, 2005
While most freshmen spend their first year searching to find new groups of friends they can call family, three have already found theirs amongst the Florida State men’s basketball team. Casaan Breeden, Uche Echefu and Brian Hoff are the triple threat freshmen who will add depth to the roster this season.
Breeden, a 6-8 forward from South Carolina, is a solid ball handler, shoots well from the perimeter and defends and rebounds just as efficiently. His work ethic and positive attitude will be an asset to the Tribe over the next few seasons. The 2005 South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year averaged a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds coming out of high school.
Looking to work on his shooting, ball handling and defense, Breeden hopes to contribute his talent to the team while earning more playing time.
Making his way from Nigeria to the United States, Echefu grew up as a standout soccer star but after people told him that his height, now 6-9, might work to his advantage in the game of basketball, he decided
to give the sport a try.
The Montrose Christian of Maryland graduate averaged 21.2 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals per game while shooting 60 percent from the field and 84 percent from the free throw line. Echefu has already contributed to the team by putting up points and will continue to see game action.
Hoff, hailing from Jacksonville, is a 6-5 guard who is looking to prove himself on the team. Being only one of two walk-ons, Hoff will continue to work hard in the weight room and on the court to see game action.
The Arlington Country Day graduate averaged 13.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a senior in 2005. Hoff led the city in 3-point field goal percentage three times — as a sophomore, a junior and a senior and looks to continue those percentages here at FSU.
The three freshmen have already learned the value of family here.
“I love my coaches, I love my teammates,” Hoff said. “We are like a family. Every time we break a huddle, that’s what we say, `Family’.”
It might be that reason alone that these college rookies chose Florida State over a slew of others. Breeden chose to be a Seminole over Miami, NC State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and St. Johns.
“I like Coach Jones and Coach Hamilton,” Breeden said. “They caught the interest of my grandparents and me when I was looking at schools.”
His teammate Echefu had the same idea when choosing among colleges. Echefu chose FSU over three of the best basketball teams and programs in the nation, North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky.
“I think the biggest factor why I came here was the coaches,” said the Nigerian native. “We’ve had a relationship for over three years and when I came here (to America), they were following my progress. I think that is the biggest factor for me. I like having a good relationship with my coaches.”
Sealing the deal on the threesome’s decisions to come here was Hoff who chose to be a walk-on at Florida State over scholarships from North Florida and The Citadel.
“I like this place better than the other two places is what it came down to. I like the environment and I really like the coaches. I just wanted to be part of Seminole basketball.”
All the players are looking to earn more playing time over the next few years but they all have one common goal – to help the team as much as possible to make it to the NCAA tournament. Each freshman knows
what his strength and weaknesses are and have committed to improving on them.
And when these fiery freshmen do see game action, each of them has a specific game ritual. Hoff tries to eat well and get a lot of rest the night before a game. Breeden wears a headband on his head and Echefu
prays and focuses on the upcoming game. Focusing on each game is important, especially now that these student-athletes are playing with the big boys in NCAA basketball.
“College basketball is a lot tougher than high school basketball,” Hoff said. “In high school, you’re not playing someone your size every night,” said Breeden. “In college, there is always someone taller. They may not have the best skills, but they got the height.”
“The game speed is more intense,” said Echefu. “You have to be strong enough to play in the ACC and without execution; there is no way to succeed in NCAA ball.”
Hamilton and his coaching staff worked hard with the team over the past few months inside the weight room and on the court getting this threesome ready for college play. They focused on speed drills, stamina and teaching them how to play for the entire 40 minutes of the game.
Hoff is working on this by going against some of the quicker guys during practice. He likes pushing himself in practice to get as much experience as possible. This is what is great about Hoff and his two classmates.
Each one of the three is willing to do whatever it takes to be their best.
The older brothers of the team have done a great job helping these freshmen find their ground as well.
“They bring energy every day and if I am struggling, I talk to them and they help me with my mistakes.”
And that’s what this team is, a family working with each other for the same goals – to work as a team and eventually make it to the NCAA tournament knowing they gave their all along the way.
By Jennifer Marcus FSU Sports Information