June 20, 2002 TALLAHASSEE It took Leonard Hamilton less than 100 days as FSU's basketball coach to make sweeping changes in a program that vastly needed them.
Since his arrival on March 19, Hamilton has ushered in three players who could play prominent roles this coming season and ushered out a pair center Nigel Dixon and point guard Ryan Lowery who probably would have just taken up space on the Seminoles' bench.
The process of making over the roster also has included some work internally, with Hamilton not-so-subtly laying out his expectations for returning players. According to a source within the program, some work remains to be done in this area in order to get several returnees on the same page. They either will comply, or they may join Dixon and Lowery as outward-bound Seminoles.
But the biggest buzz around Tallahassee these days is FSU's pursuit of Christjan Drejer, 19, a 6-8 forward from Denmark who is one of the top teens in all of Europe. Drejer already has visited campus and is expected to choose between FSU and Gonzaga soon.
Hamilton may have a leg up on the Zags because of his year as the Washington Wizards coach. Drejer, according to several NBA scouts, is a potential lottery pick down the road and could be a short-term college player. Furthermore, Gonzaga does not have a track record for signing players who intend to stay in school for only a year or two.
Drejer may represent the tip of the iceberg for FSU's future international recruiting endeavors. Hamilton had success going abroad for impact players during his days at Miami, and he clearly has connections that will open the door to FSU in an area where the Seminoles' recruiting efforts have been non-existent.
As for Hamilton's other signees, junior college point guard Nate Johnson and Pennsylvania prep star via St. Petersburg Benson Callier are expected to be cleared for enrollment. Ditto for point guard Todd Galloway, who signed with former coach Steve Robinson last fall and stayed with his choice after the coaching change. The Seminoles remain optimistic that Georgia prep forward Al Thornton will receive a qualifying ACT score on his last pre-fall attempt at the test, in early July. If not, Thornton said he probably will end up at a prep school, then re-sign with FSU for the 2003-04 season.
Several Football Signees In Limbo
Florida State's fast finish to February's football signing class thrust Bobby Bowden's class to the front once again, but the Seminoles could take some hits academically from the group.
Defensive tackle Chris Anderson (Jacksonville Mandarin) is the only certain casualty at this point and is headed to Butler County (Kan.) Community College. His high school coach, Richard Bruno, said Anderson already is enrolled at Butler and hopes to graduate next summer; in time to enroll at FSU in the fall of 2003. That's a similar path to the one taken by current quarterback Fabian Walker, but it's also one that violates basic NCAA and ACC rules that require three semesters of junior college prior to transfer. (Remember, Walker needed a special waiver from the conference to return when he did.) Stay tuned.
Wide receiver Dishon Platt (Punta Gorda Charlotte) also may be a scratch when the freshmen report in late July. A Parade All-American, he had his qualifying test score flagged by the NCAA Clearinghouse, and subsequent attempts to match a qualifying score came up short. He took his last attempt at the ACT in early June, and it could be mid-July before FSU knows his fate.
Tight end Lonnie Davis (Jacksonville White) also re-took the standardized tests after coming up short on his core GPA on the NCAA's sliding scale. He actually might be the most important incoming freshman, considering that the Seminoles are woefully thin at tight end. Rising senior Patrick Hughes and rising sophomore Paul Irons are the only scholarship players on the roster at that position, which likely would mean that FSU will move someone to the position, possibly redshirt freshman guard Matt Heinz. Another tight end possibility could be incoming freshman Chris Bradwell, who was signed as a defensive tackle and recently qualified academically.
Fullback Another Question Mark
One-time walk-on fullback Greg Tony decided to pass on his final year of eligibility to enroll in officer's candidate school, leaving the Seminoles without a single player who has played a game snap at that position.
FSU lost two fullbacks (William McCray and Chad Maeder) to graduation, while Randy Golightly was medically disqualified. That left only a pair of scholarship redshirt freshmen (B.J. Dean and James Buchanan) at the position, along with walk-on P.J. Selvidio. Dean moved to fullback from linebacker in the spring, while Buchanan hasn't yet been cleared medically following offseason shoulder surgery. That leaves incoming freshman Torrance Washington as a prominent player in the mix for a starting job.
Another alternative could be the use of two tailbacks in a split-back set, which would take advantage of FSU's glut at that position. Projected starting tailback Greg Jones, at 235 pounds, certainly has the physical tools to be an effective blocker. Jones could team with Nick Maddox or promising newcomers Lorenzo Booker, Leon Washington and Thomas Clayton, providing the Seminoles with several dangerous options.