Florida state basketball fans are already enjoying what Leonard Hamilton has built over the past two decades.
But with the recent success of the Seminoles, which has included five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, three Sweet 16s and an ACC championship, the veteran head coach has also become more recognized nationally.
At this point, Hamilton recently featured prominently in two ESPN articles on the best ACC programs.
*** Don’t miss our excellent sports coverage. Get your FREE 30 day trial! ***
In a story titled: “The Sales Pitch: Which CCA Basketball Programs Have The Most To Offer To Rookies, To Transfers?” by Jeff Borzello, an anonymous coach speaks in praise of what Hamilton and his team have been up to over the past half-decade.
âThey did a great job of really finding guys,â said the rival coach. âWe played Devin Vassell – I had to look at his recruiting rankings. In two years he’s a pro. Same thing with RaiQuan Gray. Then they sprinkle Scottie Barnes and Jonathan Isaac and that kind of guy. Trent Forrest was one of my favorite players to watch in recent years because of his tenacity. He was very recruited but he had injuries. They find guys, they find transfers, then they mingle with a junior college guy. “
Borzello also writes that Hamilton has been named by several coaches as the best “close” in the league. “He really loves to recruit,” said another anonymous coach. “He likes it all.”
According to Borzello, FSU assistant coach Charlton Young was also mentioned as someone who shone on the recruiting trail.
But it was more than other coaches who showed their appreciation for Hamilton.
In another story, accompanying the “Sales Pitch” series, there was a sort of roundtable with ESPN writers Myron Medcalf, John Gasaway, Joe Lunardi and Borzello.
There were two issues in which Hamilton featured prominently.
The first asked the following question: Which ACC coach do you think is the most underestimated for their ability to recruit or build a team?
Medcalf: Leonard. Hamilton. Since 2016, five players from Florida State have been selected in the NBA first round. Only one of them, Jonathan Isaac, was a five-star rookie on ESPN.com. Two of those players , Devin Vassell and Mfiondu Kabengele, weren’t even among the Top 100 prospects and Scottie Barnes is a planned lottery pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.
âIn basketball circles, Hamilton is respected and praised. But he has been eclipsed in a league that has won half of the national titles since 2015, a league with teams anchored by Tony Bennett, Mike Krzyzewski and, until retired Roy Williams. But his resume is formidable. He finished in the top 45 in adjusted offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency over the past five seasons. Hamilton’s ability to identify the right players for his style of play and developing these players over time has fueled his success. Players get better when they go to Florida State and compete for Leonard Hamilton. “
Gasaway: âThe all-time winner with the word ‘underrated’ will most often be Hamilton, and someday a historian will have to explain how exactly that happened. Just look at last season. Florida State had just told the review starters Trent Forrest and Vassell and key reserve Patrick Williams. No problem for Hamilton, he added Barnes to a core of MJ Walker, RaiQuan Gray and Anthony Polite and was seeded third in the program in the NCAA tournament in The Last Four Hooks. Coach has been a model of consistency, and that should normally mean that at some point he would stop being underrated. Go figure. “
Borzello: âI’m with Myron and John, that’s clearly Leonard Hamilton. There are two things that really stand out to me about the way Hamilton builds his roster. First, it’s the height and size in the frontcourt. The Seminoles seem to have a handful of 7 feet who find ways to contribute during their career at Tallahassee. A base coach once told me a story on a visit to the Florida State campus, where the coach spotted a 7 footer he had never heard of, let alone seen before, on a visit. He asked Hamilton who it was, and Hamilton replied, “Oh, we’ve got it. find. He’s coming next year. âIt’s just a pipeline of shot blockers at this point.
“The second thing is depth. Most coaches are shortening their benches and struggling to keep seven or eight guys happy. Hamilton regularly uses 10-11 guys every season and rarely has chemistry or personnel issues.”
Lunardi went with Tony Bennett of Virginia, apparently not understanding or caring about the word “underrated” in the question. With a National Championship and several No.1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, it’s unlikely that many fans or analysts will overlook or underestimate what Bennett has built in Charlottesville.
Either way, Hamilton was the answer to three of the four questions.
With reason. Because it doesn’t just produce great college basketball teams, it produces quality NBA players.
The aforementioned Forrest now gets spinning minutes with the Utah Jazz after barely playing for most of the season. The undrafted rookie has played 18.4 minutes per game in the last seven games (the Jazz have gone 6-1) and is averaging 6.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists during that span.
Mfiondu Kabengele, who was traded by the Clippers and then released by the Kings before being taken over by Cleveland, has had some brilliant moments recently. The former first-round pick had 14 points and four rebounds in 23 minutes on Sunday in the Cavaliers’ loss to the Mavericks.
Combine their recent play with the strong seasons of Terance Mann, Devin Vassell, Malik Beasley, Patrick Williams and Dwayne Bacon – who have averaged nearly 15 points per game for the Orlando Magic over the past three weeks, including five games. of 20 points. or more – and it’s easy to see how Hamilton is building a reputation across the country for developing professional leads.
And ESPN analysts hadn’t quite praised the FSU head coach, who led the Seminoles to three straight Sweet 16s.
The next roundtable question was: If you had a 17-year-old son who was recruited as a prospect by all of the CCA’s men’s basketball programs, what choice would help you sleep better at night?
Gasaway: âAt the risk of exhausting one of my previous answers, I would be safe if my very talented, talented and versatile son (dropped from the old block) was recruited by Leonard Hamilton. I would trust the coach to give it away. to my straight kid I would know this is by no means Hamilton’s first rodeo and most importantly I would expect my son’s team to experience a good level of success over the next few years (in a setting healthy enough, not less). Also, based on my past watching Hamilton, I wouldn’t see my son unduly berated much less physically accosted by his trainer if my youngster chose to sign with the Seminoles. Unfortunately, this no. it’s not the standard practice of coaches everywhere. “
Medcalf: âI would go with Leonard Hamilton here too. Last season MJ Walker told me how much he had grown during his time at Florida State. He arrived as a five-star rookie with dreams of the NBA and he left FSU as one of the first members of his family to graduate. Hamilton has proven he can develop NBA talent, but he also teaches young players to be better people. I also know , according to our conversations, that he’s the most proud to see players travel the world. Last month he tweeted a photo of the 10 Florida state players – yes, 10 – who had just gotten graduating. I guess a lot of the CCA coaches, if they couldn’t train their own sons, would send to Hamilton as well. “
Discuss FSU basketball with fans on Warchant’s Seminole Hoops bulletin board