Florida State's basketball season ended last week in New York City in the semifinal round of the NIT. It was a roller-coaster ride of highs like blowing out Charlotte and Virginia Commonwealth and beating UMass, and lows like heart-breaking losses to Michigan, Florida and Miami.
There's plenty to look forward to, namely, Thomas' first season as the undisputed leader and go-to player. FSU will have other scoring options, but none as consistent and proven as Thomas. He scored in double figures in FSU's final 17 games, the only player on the team to have that kind of streak. And in the postseason his averages crept close to 20 points per game.
Thomas's blend of stingy perimeter defense and efficient offense could be a great model to emulate. Ian Miller and White were excellent players and did provide leadership for FSU, but Thomas will have the reigns in 2014-2015, and FSU should be excited about that. Not only that, but Brandon and Bookert and Bojanovsky all showed signs of progress as the season ended. FSU desperately needs that class to turn out positively.
FSU should also get something of a positive as far as recruiting goes. Xavier Rathan-Mayes sat out his freshman season with academic issues, but is anticipated to return in 2014-2015. He could provide an extra scoring punch to help replace Miller, and another valuable rotation player on the perimeter to keep Thomas from having to play 40 minutes per game.
Bookert showed flashes of good point guard play but also struggled with confidence issues throughout the season. FSU is bringing in some help on the perimeter in combo guard Robbie Berwick and JuCo point guard Dayshawn Watkins, but it's unclear what kind of immediate impact those players will have.
In the post, Jarquez Smith turned out well. Even with a limited understanding of FSU's system, he still managed to flash athleticism and a shot-blocking ability. He'll be asked to take a much larger role in 2014 without White around, and FSU has also been searching for an additional power forward as well.
Those positives are plenty to be excited about, but if FSU goes three straight years without making the NCAA Tournament with another absence next season, things will start to get a little sticky. And the ACC won't get any easier now that Pitt, Syracuse and Louisville join the ranks. FSU will have its work cut out to remain a relevant program.