Nov. 12, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
When J.D. Bracy was two and a half years old, he picked up a basketball… and he hasn’t put it down since. He has a true love for the game, and is devoted to his passion.
“I’ve been playing basketball so long that I consider myself a true student of the game,” said Bracy. “I have really good court savvy, it comes from experience. I’ve been playing basketball ever since I was five years old. It’s just fun… I just love playing basketball, and when you love doing things, you get as much knowledge about it as you possibly can. You want to understand more everyday and just learn everything about it.”
Florida State Head Coach Steve Robinson certainly noticed Bracy’s abilities, stating that Bracy has a good basketball mind and is sometimes ahead of everybody else in terms of thought processes and what should be happening.
“He really has a good feel for the game,” said Robinson. “He just makes plays. He is strong enough to guard bigger people but he is quick enough to guard smaller people. Offensively he is quick enough to go by you and he is strong enough to go over you. Plus he has a range to shoot it from beyond the three point line.”
The Seminoles weren’t the only team that noticed something special in Bracy. Syracuse, Cincinnati, Penn State, Notre Dame, Xavier, Miami, South Florida, Central Florida, Alabama, Georgia Tech, and NC State were all vying for Bracy’s basketball skills, while Georgia and Georgia Tech were eying his football abilities. Bracy, a Kissimmee, Fla., native knew he did not want to go out of state, but also wanted to have a true college experience away from home.
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I actually used to be a Florida football fan,” admitted Bracy. “My uncle attended the University of Florida, so every time they played Florida State, I would cheer for the Gators. Central Florida was pretty high on my list, the coaches there are great and recruited me real well, but it was a little too close. My mom didn’t want me to be too close to home. UCF wasn’t getting away and being in a new area.
“Florida State and Coach Robinson kept it real with me. He just told me straight up that he was preaching academics first… that I was going to come here and get an education. He also said that I was going to be getting a lot of competition in the ACC. You can’t beat that, with me being the competitor that I am. Coach Rob and Coach Crawford kept it real, they didn’t make any promises to me, and I dug that about them.”
Observing the flow of the game from the bench last season, Bracy feels he got a coach’s perspective of the game, helping him to mature mentally.
“The coaches do an excellent job teaching,” commented Bracy. “They do a great job breaking down plays and defenses, they watch films, then have us come in and watch with them, they are on time and expect us to be. The coaches here put there all into it, and they expect us to do the same thing.”
Bracy holds more than his own on the court, averaging 27.3 points his senior season at Osceola High and rated as the premier shooting guard in the state of Florida in 2000, he found the players at this level to be stronger and faster, so he used last season to improve his own speed, strength and skills.
“Missing last season was the most frustrating experience at that time of my life, just knowing I couldn’t play due to certain circumstances,” said Bracy. “It made me realize the love that I have for the game and how life would be without basketball. I’m a lot stronger from it.
“Honestly, it was hard because I’m so used to playing ball well while doing well in school. My reward was always to be able to play basketball. When that was taken away from me for that time, it was hard to focus on school because all I could think about was playing. It did help me out by giving me a head start on how classes go in college, and it gave me a lot of time to think about my future as far as life without basketball. I am still currently undecided, but I am thinking about going with business for my major.”
The thought of not having basketball in his life is not the only thing that inspires J.D. After raising two young men by herself, Bracy’s mother is his motivation as well as his hero. Bracy also feels motivation from a man he loved like a father… his AAU coach, Jimmy McCrimon. Describing him as “the guy who taught me everything I know about basketball,” Bracy was a fan of McCrimon when he played on the 1983 Osceola High School state championship team, and was coached by him from the age of 9 until 17. Bracy received help from McCrimon on and off the basketball court, and hopes to continue their friendship.
For now, Bracy is just concentrating game by game. He plans to step on the floor each game with the confidence that he can win, and hopes that his teammates will step on the court the same way.
“I love winning and that’s what I expect to do,” he said “Win or lose, I am still going to come out feeling like a winner as long as I know I am doing everything I’m supposed to do to help my team and make it happen.”
“We have a very good team this year and I have enough confidence to say this could be the best team to ever be a part of Florida State’s basketball tradition. I just can’t wait to start.”
By Katie Colleen Hughes
Sports Information Assistant