Leonard Hamilton, Florida State rebuilding around ‘2-year veterans’

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Leonard Hamilton has always tried to build and win with veteran teams. This season the Florida State coach will win with a new type of veteran.

“We’re fortunate now that every one of our returning veterans, our two-year veterans, they have improved with hard work over the summer,” Hamilton said. “And to my pleasure, the incoming players that we have are farther along than I thought they would be at this stage.”

Hamilton and the Seminoles have built rosters through the years that lean on length, athleticism and depth. They have also featured a blend of seniors as well as transfers and some one-and-done stars. But the Seminoles haven’t had a situation like this, where they return just five players and all of them are beginning only their second season in Tallahassee.

Florida State’s returning five are a good foundation – productive players who are evolving into leaders. They will be complemented by a few transfers and freshmen who could help the program get back to the NCAA Tournament after falling short at 17-14 during an injury-depleted 2021-22 season.

The Seminoles return their top two scorers in guards Caleb Mills (12.7 points) and Matthew Cleveland (11.5 points). Also back is forward Cam’Ron Fletcher, who averaged 6.8 points off the bench last season, as well as center Naheem McLeod and guard Jalen Warley.

FSU also welcomes junior guard Darin Green Jr., a UCF transfer who led the team in scoring (13.3 points) and 3-pointers (87) last season. Forward Baba Miller, a 6-foot-11 forward who played for Spain’s under-18 national team over the summer, leads a freshman class that also includes center Cameron Corhen, forward De’Ante Green and guard Chandler Jackson.

Hamilton thinks his unranked team will make an impression quickly.

“When you look back even at the times we’ve won the ACC, ranked in the top 10 at the end of the season, those years we’ve never been preseason in the Top 25,” Hamilton said. “I’m expecting to have a really good year. Hopefully we’ll be a surprise team in the country.”


Florida State lost 54 games to injury in 2021-22, with five of the Seminoles’ top nine scorers forced to watch for large chunks of the ACC schedule. One early question is Jaylen Gainey, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Brown who was the Ivy League’s defensive player of the year in 2020 and ’22. Gainey suffered a preseason injury and could be out an extensive part of the season.


Hamilton was hired at Florida State in 2002 and turned 74 in August. At a time where some of the biggest names in college basketball have opted to retire, notably Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (now 75) and UNC’s Roy Williams (now 72), Hamilton embraces his role as a mentor and coach.

“I’m happy where I am, my family is happy and we’re expecting bigger and better things,” said Hamilton, whose teams are 78-42 since the start of the 2016-17 season. “Don’t ask me when I’m retiring. As long as I can come out of the locker room and not accidentally go sit on the other coach’s bench because I don’t know where I’m at, I’m going to hang in there.”


Green Jr. shot 6 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc in UCF’s win over Florida State on Dec. 19, 2020. The 6-foot-5 guard made 208 3-pointers in three seasons at UCF, making 38.8 shots from long range. The early impressions of Green Jr. at Florida State have been impressive: He shot 13 of 30 from 3-point range during a three-game exhibition tour in Canada this summer.


Florida State has won the last four ACC Sixth Man of the Year awards: Mfiondu Kabengele, Patrick Williams, Scottie Barnes and Cleveland. The 6-foot-7 Cleveland has tried to make newcomers feel more comfortable during preseason practices.

“Just making sure that everyone, the transfers and the incoming guys, that they have the information that they need to play within the system and to be comfortable,” Cleveland said.


Florida State will host preseason No. 1 North Carolina on Feb. 27 and No. 18 Virginia on Jan. 14. The Seminoles will travel to play at Duke on Dec. 31. They will also face five schools that received votes in the presason AP Top 25: Florida, Miami, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Purdue.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.