Dec. 13, 2004
“Back in the Game” is definitely a great motto for this year’s basketball team. With a group of core players returning to the roster and a talented group of freshman, Florida State University will definitely be making some noise in the Atlantic Coast Conference. This year with great depth in the backcourt, not only will the Seminoles be “Back in the Game”, but they will be winning more games while they make a run to the NCAA tournament.
With a solid returning nucleus of players, and the top recruiting class in the ACC, the Florida State is hoping to finish in the top echelon of the conference; if the freshmen perform as advertised. Florida State’s 2002-03 recruiting class was the consensus choice as the nation’s best while its 2003-04 class was rated 16th. Both classes were rated as the best in the ACC.
The three freshmen have arrived this year have already been making a big impact in the early season. They are determined to provide the depth and even some leadership in the backcourt. The three freshmen this year are Isaiah Swan, a 6-1 guard who hails from Germantown, Maryland; Jason Rich a highly acclaimed guard who graduated from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida and the highly touted Ralph Mims who was the sleeper of the group and is blossoming into a great player as well as an emotional leader. Some even say Mims is favoring the likes of Tim Picket. Replacing Tim Picket will be a tough chore for the backcourt, but the freshmen class is more than capable of doing so.
Rated last year as a four-star athlete by Rivals.com recruiting service, Swann is adapting fast to the upbeat tempo of college basketball as well as the college life. Stating that it is tough, but he is making the transition smoothly and has enjoyed the family like atmosphere at Florida State.
Swann graduated from Hargrave Military Academy in 2004. He averaged 23.8 points, 9 assist, and 7 rebounds his senior season, capping it off with a 25-1 record and a Mythical National Prep Championship. Swann played for the East Team at the U.S. Olympic Developmental Festival during the summer of 2003. He was one of the most highly decorated players to ever come out of Hargrave.
Having the opportunity to contribute this early in his career at FSU shows his great athletic ability. Head coach Leonard Hamilton has stated that “Isaiah has developed into an outstanding outside point guard. We are looking for him to provide a major contribution.”
Swann started in every game throughout his prep years and says he feels absolutely no pressure having to contribute so early in his career. His stats seem to back him up. He is averaging 7.0 points a game, 2.0 rebounds, and leading the team in steals (nine) and free throw percentage (1.000).
His stats are very promising and will only improve as the season continues. Along with his athletic abilities, his emotional leadership will be one of Swann’s biggest assets to the team this season.
Rich was another highly sought after recruit, graduated from Dr. Phillips in Orlando where he averaged 21.5 points, 4.5 assists, 2.9 steals and shot .550 from the field as a senior. He was one of only four All-Americans bound for the ACC in his recruiting class.
He is an extremely athletic perimeter player who will fit in well with Florida State’s style of basketball. His quickness and athleticism will be a great contributor to the team’s success. Rich received many offers coming out of high school, but decided to choose Florida State over major Division I programs like Kentucky, Georgia Tech, and Connecticut. He says that he chose to play for coach Hamilton because he felt that he, along with Swann and Mims could help turn Florida State into one of the elite programs in the nation.
Rich’s progress had been delayed by an eye injury early in the season but now he is back on the court and putting up impressive numbers. He is averaging 4.8 points a game and led FSU in a win over Ole Miss where he scored a career high 12 points.
Being such a well-rounded player, Rich has had comparisons to Kobe Bryant. Rich says, “I enjoy the way Bryant plays the game. He is such a well rounded player.” One of his team goals for this season is to make it deep into the NCAA tournament. With his hard work and dedication, his goals can certainly be achieved.
Highlighting the freshman class is Mims, a 6-2, 200-pound guard who attended Brunswick high school in Maine. Growing up he was a childhood friend of Swann in Pensacola. Mims, a two-sport athlete in high school, not only excelled in basketball but also in football, anchoring his team as quarterback and cornerback. His senior season on the hardwood he averaged 28.9, 11.4 rebounds, 5.5 assist and 4.5 steals. He was Mr. Basketball in
the state of Maine as a senior and the state Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior.
His success has followed him to Florida State where he has made an immediate impact off the bench. He is averaging 6.2 points a game and leads the freshman class with 17 rebounds in the first six games of the season. Coach Hamilton has said of Mims that “He is a very versatile player who has the potential to provide leadership at the point guard position”. With continued work Mims has the capability of being successful at the point or shooting guard at the collegiate level.
Mims he emerged into one of the spark players of the team and has added great depth to the guard position. He is dedicated to working hard on all aspects of his game. Modeling his game after Pickett and Bryant, Mims has brought energy and excitement to the court.
In his first collegiate game, Mims finished with 17 points and pulled down 7 rebounds. He entered the game four minutes into the first half; performed like a veteran and gave the Seminoles an immediate spark.
His athleticism will certainly translate into great highlights as he continues his career as a Seminole.
This year’s freshman class brings versatility and more options in the late stretches of games, which will be
significant to FSU’s success late in the season. All of the freshmen are going to learn quickly and have great careers at Florida State. The opportunity is there for them and they are willing and ready to propel Florida State basketball to the next level.
By Florence Williams
Florida State Sports Information