July 25, 2007
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
It has been a busy summer for the many members – past and present – of the Florida State basketball program. From All-America Al Thornton becoming only the second NBA lottery selection in school history to Head Coach Leonard Hamilton’s upcoming induction into the Gaston County (N.C.) Hall of Fame, the Seminoles continue to raise the stature of the program on the local, regional and national levels.
THORNTON IS THE SECOND NBA DRAFT LOTTERY SELECTION IN SCHOOL HISTORY
Al Thornton, who earned All-ACC First-Team honors as a senior in 2007, became the second NBA Draft Lottery selection in school history as he was selected with the 14th overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. Thornton, who will wear his college number of 12 for the Clippers, joined George McCloud (ninth overall selection by the Indiana Pacers in 1989) as the two Seminoles who have been Draft Lottery selections. Thornton signed his first professional contract on July 5 and was the Clippers’ top player in the NBA summer league in Las Vegas in July.
QUOTING CLIPPERS VICE PRESIDENT OF BASKETBALL OPERATIONS ELGIN BAYLOR
“Going into the draft, we wanted to get the best player we could get and a player we felt could come in and play right away. We liked Al (Thornton), but we never thought he’d be there at fourteen. We were unbelievably pleased he was still there. He’s the type of player coaches like. He’s a high energy player that plays hard on both ends of the floor.
QUOTING CLIPPERS HEAD COACH MIKE DUNLEAVY
“As we entered the draft process, between studying films and seeing players in person, Al was the guy we hoped to get. There were a number of times during the draft process where you hear all kinds of stories about where different guys are going, and there was actually one scenario where he could get to us. As that started to unfold during the day it was very exciting in our draft room. We knew there were a couple of hurdles we’d have to cross, and as they got out of the way we had a jubilant group. We’re extremely pleased to have Al.”
THORNTON LEADS CLIPPERS IN SUMMER LEAGUE PLAY
Seminole All-American Al Thornton was named the 2007 NBA Summer League First-Team. He averaged 17.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 29.0 minutes in five games. Thornton began his career with a 24-point, eight rebound performance against the Denver Nuggets’ summer league team. He went 7-18 from the field and 10-14 from the free throw line. Thornton scored in double figures in each of the Clippers’ five games and averaged 17.6 and 6.2 rebounds. He earned a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds against Memphis and scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds against Houston. The Clippers finished Summer League play with a record of 2-3.
THORNTON JOINS CASSELL IN LOS ANGELES
Seminole All-American Al Thornton will join Seminole All-ACC selection Sam Cassell as members of the Los Angeles Clippers. Cassell will begin his third season with the Clippers and his 15th in the NBA during the 2007-08 season. He averaged 12.3 points and 2.9 rebounds during the 2006-07 season and has scored over 15,000 points during his career. Cassell was a member of the Houston Rockets’ 1994 and 1995 World Championship teams.
WAFER LEADS NUGGETS SUMMER LEAGUE TEAM IN LAS VEGAS
Former Seminole Von Wafer, a second round pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, averaged 24.2 points and 3.0 rebounds for the Denver Nuggets’ summer league team. Wafer scored 42 points against the Knicks on July 15 during summer league play as he made 16 of 26 shots from the field and five of nine shots from the 3-point line. He also scored 25 points against Detroit and 22 against the Los Angeles Lakers (the team that originally drafted him in 2005) to finish as the Nuggets’ leading scorer during summer league play. Wafer shot .537 from the field and .440 from the 3-point line in leading Denver to a 3-2 record. He signed with Denver late during the 2007 season and is looking to make the Nuggets’ roster again this season.
HALE STARS FOR PHOENIX IN SUMMER LEAGUE PLAY
Ron Hale, who starred for Florida State from 1997-2000, averaged 12.4 points and 3.6 rebounds as a member of the Phoenix Suns’ summer league team. He scored in double figures three times in five games with a stellar 25-point outburst against New Orleans ranking as his top scoring performance of the summer. Hale also scored 19 points against Minnesota and added 11 against Cleveland as the Suns recorded a 1-4 record in the Las Vegas Summer League. Hale has played professionally in Japan and is looking to bring his game to the NBA in order to be closer to his family in the United States.
RICHARDSON EARNS TRAINING CAMP INVITE WITH STANDOUT SUMMER LEAGUE PLAY
Anthony Richardson, who starred at Florida State from 2002-05, has earned an invitation to the New Orleans Hornets’ training camp with his play in the Las Vegas Summer League. He averaged 13.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in just over 24 minutes a game for the Hornets. Richardson scored in double figures in four of the Hornets’ five games including 19-point performance against Houston. He shot .520 from the field and .765 from the line. Richardson spent part of the last year playing professionally in Hungary.
RICHARDSON WORKS HIS WAY UP THROUGH THE USBL AND THE CBA
Seminole standout Anthony Richardson spent the last six months working his way toward the NBA by starring in both the USBL and the CBA. He led the Kansas Cagerz to the United States Basketball League title and was named the league’s MVP. He averaged 20.0 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Cagerz. Prior to playing in the USBL, he played 56 games in the Continental Basketball Association with the Butte Daredevils. He averaged 15.5 points and nearly six rebounds per game for the Daredevils. He was named to the CBA All-Star team and won the league’s dunk contest. His recent honors included being named the USBL Player of the Year in 2007 along with earning All-USBL 1st Team honors in 2007 and USBL All-Tournament Team honors in 2007.
ALABI LEADS NIGERIA IN FIBA U-19 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Seminole freshman Solomon Alabi, who selected Florida State over Arizona and Virginia, averaged 9.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots for Nigeria during the recently completed FIBA U-19 World Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia. He shot .436 from the field and .667 from the free throw line. He scored in double figures in three of Nigeria’s five games with a personal tournament high of 11 points coming against Lebanon. Alabi recorded double-doubles of 14 points and 15 rebounds in a victory over Puerto Rico and totaled 11 points and 10 rebounds against Lebanon.
ALABI FINISHES AS TOP SHOT BLOCKER IN FIBA U-19 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Center Solomon Alabi, who will begin his Seminole basketball career this fall, finished the FIBA U-19 World Championship tournament as the leader in blocked shots. He played as a member of the Nigerian National Team. The Seminoles’ 7’1″ recruit blocked 14 shots in five games for a 2.8 blocked shots per game average. Alabi blocked six shots in a victory over Puerto Rico and added four against Australia. He blocked at least one shot in four of Nigeria’s five games and finished as one of only three players who averaged more than two blocked shots per game in the tournament.
VAUGHN NAMED MR. BASKETBALL IN THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
Seminole freshman Julian Vaughn was recently named Mr. Basketball in the state of Virginia by the Roanoke Times and World News. He averaged 8.2 points and 10.2 rebounds to go along with 3.3 blocked shots per game in leading the Warriors to the No. 1 overall national ranking and the mythical national championship in the USA TODAY Super 25 boy’s high school basketball rankings for the 2007 season. Vaughn helped lead Oak Hill to a 40-1 overall record to tie the single-season school record for wins at the nationally renowned school. During the season, he helped the Warriors defeat nine different state champion teams. Vaughn scored 22 points and pulled down a school record 31 rebounds against Bonner Academy from Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 18, 2007.
AMILTON TO BE INDUCTED INTO FOURTH HALL OF FAME
Seminole Head Coach Leonard Hamilton will be inducted into the Gaston County (N.C.) Hall of Fame on Aug. 6 at the Cramer Mountain Country Club. In addition to playing basketball in his hometown of Gastonia, Hamilton played for two seasons at Gaston Community College before finishing his college playing career at Tennessee-Martin. Hamilton’s induction into the Gaston County Hall of Fame will mark the fourth HOF induction of his career – he is already in the athletic Hall of Fame at Austin Peay State University, the University of Tennessee at Martin and the University of Miami.
SEMINOLES ADD WILLIAMS TO COACHING STAFF
Oklahoma State assistant coach Corey Williams has been named an assistant basketball coach at Florida State by Head Coach Leonard Hamilton. Williams was recently hired by Oklahoma State – his alma mater – as an assistant coach and the Cowboy’s chief recruiter. In accepting the position on Hamilton’s staff, Williams moves closer to his roots in Macon, Ga., where both his and his wife’s parents still reside. Williams helped lead Oral Roberts to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances as a coach and led Oklahoma State to consecutive NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances as a player. He was an assistant coach at Oral Roberts from 2000-07 and a player at Oklahoma State from 1989-92. Williams, 37, was an assistant coach for eight seasons at Oral Roberts where he helped lead the Golden Eagles to an average of 18 wins a season including 20 or more wins in each of the last three seasons and appearances in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons. Oral Roberts finished with a 23-11 record and won the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament championship this past season. Among its 23 wins during the 2007 season was a victory over No. 3 Kansas on the road at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.
WARD TO TRY HIS HAND AT HIGH SCHOOL COACHING
Charlie Ward, who has been an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets has been hired by Westbury Christian High School in Houston as an assistant coach for the varsity boys’ basketball team. Ward played eleven years in the NBA, ten years with the New York Knicks and one year with the Houston Rockets before becoming an assistant coach.
WARD TO REPRESENT FLORIDA STATE AT THE 2008 ACC TOURNAMENT
Charlie Ward, who helped lead Florida State to the 1991 Metro Conference Tournament basketball title and to the Elite 8 of the 1993 NCAA Tournament, will represent Florida State as part of the Legends Program at the 2008 ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. The Seminoles have previously been represented by George McCloud (2007), Dave Cowens (2006) and Mitchell Wiggins (2005) at the grandfather of all college basketball tournaments.
COWENS LEADS PISTONS TO THIRD ROUND OF NBA PLAYOFFS
Seminole All-America Dave Cowens, who is the ninth all-time leading scorer in Florida State history with 1,479 points, recently helped lead the Detroit Pistons to the third round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs. Cowens is in his second season as an assistant coach for the Pistons. The Pistons were 53-29 during the regular season and 10-6 in the playoffs. They were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers one round before reaching the NBA Finals.