A lot of the off-season talk concerning the ACC has been surrounding the troubles of North Carolina and the recruits and returnees that will be playing for Duke during the next season. However, the team that everyone should be talking about as more than a dark horse for the conference, comes from just a bit further south, in the state of Florida.
Seminoles.com reports that Xavier Rathan-Mayes will return to Florida State next season for his junior campaign. Rathan-Mayes had initially entered his name into the draft for consideration, not unlike many other underclassmen due to the changes in the NBA off-season schedule, but has opted to return to Tallahassee. The guard averaged 11.8 points per contest in conjunction with 4.4 assists. He is closing in on 1,000 career points as a Seminole and also is nearing top ten in school history in assists with two possible years of eligibility remaining.
This move is huge for Florida State and will shake the ACC basketball landscape. Florida State was in the top three in scoring in the conference last season and with the return of Rathan-Mays, look to continue a quest to reclaim the league title. This comes on the heels of heralded freshman Dwayne Bacon announcing he would return. This star recruit of the 2015 class generated 15.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Despite Malik Beasley (15.6 PPG) indicating that he intends to enter the NBA Draft, and Devon Bookert being lost to graduation, the Noles will still return a significant percentage of their scoring. Beasley has not signed with an agent as of yet, and were he to reverse his decision and return, that would push the team to be a leading candidate in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the upcoming season.
There will also be some new faces joining the team that should make fans even more excited. Coach Leonard Hamilton boasts a recruiting class including four high school recruits and one junior college transfer. Two of the incoming freshman are ESPN top 100, including long armed Jonathan Isaac. The forward has some developing to do, but has explosive capabilities.
Coupled with a distributor like Rathan-Mayes, these freshmen could flourish. The real crux of the issue of Rathan-Mayes coming back is that he has the ability to create for others as opposed to just himself. When a player like this decides to return for a third or even fourth year of eligibility, he brings experience that will take the pressure off of the younger players entering the fray. In this case, the newer players will not have to work as hard to create scoring. The abilities of their leader, Rathan-Mayes, will allow them to have opportunities set up for success.
So despite all of the chatter about the two teams in blue from the ACC, the maroon and gold team is the one that everyone should be talking about. The battle cry of the Seminole will be making some noise in the college basketball season to come.