TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton unveiled one of his deepest and most talented teams to the adoring Seminole crowd at the Eighth Annual Jam With Ham at Tully Gymnasium – complete with a 1970’s themed program that included a disco ball, 70-80’s music and Hamilton himself dressed in his best throwback suit blended with a kaleidoscope of colors that certainly drew the loudest cheers of the night.
Florida State welcomes back two of its top three scorers, its top rebounder and its assists leader from a team that advanced to the second round of the NIT in 2016. The Seminoles will rely on a group of athletes as it looks to make its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last eight seasons. The Seminoles will also count on the maturation of their second consecutive top-10 recruiting class to continue to play as one of the top teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Florida State is ranked in all of the early preseason polls and is considered to be among the favorites in the ACC race.
Hamilton’s team is expected to be led by sophomore Dwayne Bacon and junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes along with a bevy of freshmen who make up one of the top recruiting classes in school history. The most notable newcomer is forward Jonathan Isaac who is considered by many to be one of the top-10 most talented freshmen in college basketball this season.
Hamilton’s returning players, as well as his newcomers, were on display for the first time at the Jam with Ham, and the 15th-year head coach liked what he saw as the team played nearly 25 minutes of an inter-squad scrimmage.
“We’re trying to tailor our system to who we are,” said Hamilton following the festivities. “We can be a real good defensive team, able to create more on offense. I’m excited about where we are.”
The night was highlighted by a dunk and 3-point shooting contests which were won by junior Phil Cofer and freshman CJ Walker.
The athleticism displayed by Cofer in winning the dunk contest was a welcome sight to Seminole fans as he missed all but 11 games last season after surgery on an ankle to remove bone spurs. The shooting stroke Walker displayed in winning the 3-point contest gave the fans a look at one of the players who will be a significant part of the present and the future of the Seminole program.
“All of the newcomers have done a nice job so far,” Hamilton said. “The thing that has surprised is that we have shot well so far.”
Florida State will play host to two exhibition games – Oct. 27 against Southeastern University and Nov. 3 against Valdosta State before beginning its regular season on Nov. 12 against Charleston Southern.