TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes has shown he can take over a game with his shooting.
But this season the sophomore has a new challenge: getting the rest of his teammates involved while trying to become one of the top point guards in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Many believe Rathan-Mayes is already there; he was selected to the preseason All-ACC team. Last season he led the Seminoles in points (14.9), assists (4.3) and steals (1.1) per game. It is the first time in five seasons a Seminoles’ player has been named to the preseason first team.
“The coaching staff is not worried about me scoring but being able to run the team and be an extension of coach (Leonard) Hamilton on the floor,” Rathan-Mayes said. “Everyone in the nation knows I can score but the next step is being more mature and picking my spots where to score.”
Last season Rathan-Mayes was the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 points or more in three games. He had 35 points in two games, including Feb. 25 at Miami where he scored 30 points in the final 4 minutes, 18 seconds. The Seminoles lost that game and were 17-16 last season as they failed to qualify for a postseason tournament for the first time in 10 seasons.
Even though Rathan-Mayes moved to the point early last season after Aaron Thomas was declared ineligible. But it was more of a case of a shooting guard playing the point. With injuries and a lack of depth hampering the Seminoles, Rathan-Mayes’ priority was shooting.
This season that isn’t expected to be the case.
“It is obvious he is trying to get everyone involved. I think that is the transition for him,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “To be able to play at the highest level this is a chance for him to create opportunities. We have preached since day one that we have to be a team that creates for each other.”
Florida State returns its six top scorers from last season but also have one of the nation’s better recruiting classes. In last Monday’s 114-68 exhibition win over Lynn University, freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley got the start. Hamilton likes his lineups versatility, but they are expected to go with three guards most of the time.
Rathan-Mayes has known since the end of last season though that he needed to become a better point guard. He worked some on his perimeter shooting during the offseason, but most of his focus has been on how to effectively run the floor.
The inside players have noticed Rathan-Mayes’ improvement running the floor.
“He learned a lot last year, he knows what spots to choose and where to find his teammates,” forward Jarquez Smith said. “He gets it to us more and focuses on himself last.”
Florida State did a good job during the exhibition game in getting transition baskets, but Hamilton would like to see a better job in half court during Monday’s second exhibition game against Southeastern University.
“I have so many options on the wing that I can get the ball to get a bucket or to the free throw line,” Rathan-Mayes said. “It puts pressure on opposing defenses and if they’re not open on the wing it gives me space to work or get the ball to our big guys.”
Rathan-Mayes knows that he will be on the top of opponents scouting reports, but is confident that he will be able to mesh everything together. Florida State opens the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.
“With the guys that we have coming in and our returners, I definitely feel like we’ve got a special team,” he said. “Those are guys that are going to take a lot of pressure off of myself and allow us to play free and allow us to play good basketball.”