March 7, 2004
Seminole head coach Leonard Hamilton, who graduated 28 of his 31 seniors players during his ten-year career at the University of Miami, has continued that tradition during his tenure at Florida State. Included in a group of 57 Seminole student athletes who are scheduled to graduate this spring are six seniors on Hamilton’s men’s basketball team this season. Seniors Nate Johnson, Michael Joiner, Mike Mathews and Tim Pickett along with walk-on Orenn Fells will all graduate this spring. Mathews previously earned his degree (August of 2003) and has been taking post-graduate classes while playing for the Seminoles this season. Joiner was on track to graduate last fall but saved his one final required class – Politics in Europe – for this semester and will walk with his class during graduation ceremonies in the Civic Center in late April. Guard Andrew Wilson, who has been in school for four years, and endured two medical redshirt years, will earn his undergraduate degree in sport management and begin taking post graduate classes this summer. Former point guard Ryan Lowery will also earn his undergraduate degree this spring. The men’s basketball team will be a perfect four-of-four in scholarship seniors earning their degrees under Hamilton.
“Working with our players to earn their degrees is an aspect of college life that is very important to our staff,” said Hamilton. “Helping our players earn success in the classroom in one of the most important things we can do as coaches. The success of our players in becoming well-rounded men is very important to the success of our program here at Florida State.”
For Joiner, a four-year starting forward, academic success has always seemed to come easy. An academic standout in high school, he began his academic career at Florida State prior to his freshman season. He enrolled in a pre-collegiate curriculum which helped him prepare for the successful adaptation to the rigors of collegiate life. Joiner flourished in the program and was named the C.A.R.E. (Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement) Man of the Year and was well on his way to academic success before most of his classmates arrived on campus.
“My parents always instilled in me the need to be successful with my school work,” said Joiner.
“They allowed me to make my own choices and one of those choices was to be successful in all aspects of my life. School was one of those aspects. I feel success in the classroom allows me to be successful on the court.”
Joiner, who has been named to the ACC Honor Roll throughout his career, is ranked in the top 25 in six different statistics in the Seminoles’ record book. He is on the verge of becoming one of only 37 players in school history to score 1,000 or more points during his career.
Another player on the verge of scoring 1,000 career points and earning his degree is Tim Pickett.
Pickett, the most decorated Seminole in the last two seasons, will become even more decorated in May when he receives his degree in sociology. It will continue a strong academic trend for Pickett who earned his Associates’ Degree from Indian River Community College before enrolling at Florida State.
“I learned that my success on the basketball court is tied to my success in the classroom,” said Pickett. “I had to decide for myself that I wanted to be successful in both areas. Once I made that decision, everything became a lot easier and much more fun for me.
Pickett is quick to point out that his success in the classroom has come through hard work by both himself and the hard-working members of the Academic Support Unit.
“Everybody at Florida State has helped me be successful – both as a student and as a basketball player,” said Pickett. “Coach Hamilton preaches going to class, study hall and to all of our tutoring sessions and people like Kevin White and Dr. (Brenda Monk) make sure I ma doing what I need to do when I am in study hall.
One of the great academic success stories for the Seminole men’s basketball team is Mathews who earned his undergraduate degree in sport management during the summer of 2003.
By earning his degree Mathews became only the second men’s basketball player in Florida State and Atlantic Coast Conference history to enter school as a partial qualifier, graduate in four years and earn back his fourth year of playing eligibility. Because he did not meet NCAA regulations as a full academic qualifier when he first arrived at Florida State as a freshman he had to sit out his first competitive season.
“I knew that I could accomplish the goal of graduating in four years that I had set for myself when I first came to Florida State,” said Mathews. “I didn’t realize how hard I had to work when I was a freshman. As the years went on I realized I had to buckle down to graduate on time. I paid for taking it easy early on in my academic career but I was determined to play four years of college basketball.”
Academic success under Hamilton was evident early during Hamilton’s tenure at Florida State as four members of the Seminoles’ 2002-03 men’s basketball team – guards Todd Galloway, Marcell Haywood and Wilson and Mathews were named to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Academic Team. The Seminoles were the only team in the league with more than two players named as five of the nine conference schools had at least one player named to the 10-man team.
In addition, the Seminoles’ success on the All-Academic men’s basketball team, the Seminoles had six players named to the 2003 ACC Honor Roll – more than any other team in the ACC.
Under Leonard Hamilton, the Seminoles are one of the most improved teams in the nation on the basketball court. They are also one of the top teams in the nation in the classroom. The combination of a strong program on the court and a strong program in the classroom has quickly made Florida State one of the hottest programs in the nation.