Make way for M.J. Walker, Tallahassee. That’s something that head coach Leonard Hamilton will literally have to do.
Florida State received unexpected — but great — news on Wednesday morning as the 4-star guard and one of the nation’s top 30 players, per 247Sports’ composite rankings, pledged to the Seminoles. Walker is a volume scorer who will drastically help alleviate the void left by three players who declared early for the NBA Draft.
However, he also adds volume to FSU’s scholarship count.
With the addition of Walker, FSU projects to have 14 scholarship players next season. That’s one over the limit.
With Walker’s talent, Hamilton and company will make room. But someone will have to go.
Among current players, forward Phil Cofer would seem to be the most likely to leave. Cofer is entering his fourth year in the program but didn’t really fit the style employed last year. As FSU looked to push the basketball, Cofer’s skill set was more ideal for a half-court offense.
Aside from Cofer, forward Mfiondu Kabengele is a player fans should watch. The 6-9 nephew of NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, Kabengele redshirted last year,. However, he has a ton of potential.
The Seminoles are unlikely to find attrition within this recruiting class. Three of the class’ six members have already enrolled, and the two others have signed.
Getting under the scholarship limit will be a challenge, but the addition of Walker changes the outlook for next season. Walker is a talented player and a tremendous athlete; he’ll likely start and be the team’s top scorer from Day 1.
With Jonathan Isaac, Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes all declaring for the NBA Draft on top of Michael Ojo and Jarquez Smith graduating, the Seminoles are losing a lot. FSU must replace 60 percent of its points, 53 percent of its rebounds and 64 percent of its assists.
Walker should help alleviate the void in all of those areas. He also gives Florida State a legitimate chance to contend in the ACC and make the NCAA Tournament.
Had Walker gone elsewhere, FSU still would have had a legitimate NCAA Tournament shot. However, this greatly improves that. Ikechukwu Obiagu could immediately come in and replace much of the production left behind by Ojo. In addition, guards Trent Forrest and C.J. Walker are promising young players. Perhaps more importantly, Terance Mann is a Swiss Army knife for the Seminoles.
While those three, along with guys like Braian Angola-Rodas, P.J. Savoy and Christ Koumadje, all have the potential to make a big impact, the one thing that the Seminoles didn’t have an answer for was how to score. Walker answers a large part of that question.
FSU moved up from No. 25 overall to 12th in 247Sports’ composite team recruiting rankings. The Seminoles climb from sixth in the ACC to fourth as well. While the Walker signing complicates the scholarship count, it significantly brightens the outlook for FSU this upcoming season and possibly beyond.