At 68 years old, Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton could be in line for a third ACC Coach of the Year Award.
On Monday night, Hamilton’s Seminoles defeated Boston College 104-72 to clinch their first winning record in ACC play in four years. Another milestone is on the horizon as the team is within one home victory of its first perfect home slate in more than six decades.
The win was also the 500th of Hamilton’s career.
After spending the latter part of last season on the hot seat, Hamilton is tasting sweet redemption as FSU is 22-6 and ranked No. 19 nationally. With only two years remaining on his contract after this one, however, there is some question as to how long Hamilton will want to go on.
Hamilton turns 69 in August, and with his contract set to expire in two years, FSU will likely need to act before then. Having a head coach with an expiring contract wouldn’t exactly help recruiting. Action on FSU’s part could include another extension or announcing a search for a replacement.
Doing the latter, of course, would depend on what Hamilton wants to do. After a stellar 2016-17 campaign, the FSU coach has probably bought himself a few more years if he wants them.
With that said, it’s not out of the question that this could be Hamilton’s final season at Florida State. As the school’s winningest coach and the only one to bring FSU an ACC title, there isn’t much that he could do to further his legacy in Tallahassee, aside from perhaps sneaking into the Final Four.
Following this season, Florida State will likely have a roster that excludes Jonathan Isaac and Dwayne Bacon. That doesn’t, however, mean the future isn’t bright.
Trent Forrest, C.J. Walker, Terance Mann and Christ Koumadje are all promising young players, and FSU has an incoming class that ranks in the top 20 nationally.
As good as next season’s squad could be, though, there won’t be much NBA talent. That alone may be enough to deter Hamilton from wanting to coach into his early-to-mid-70s.
To Hamilton’s credit, he has evolved with his age. His teams that reached the NCAA tournament in four straight years from 2009-12 were predicated on size, depth, athleticism and, most of all, elite defense.
Hamilton’s last couple teams have had similar characteristics, but the FSU coach has been more willing to get out and run offensively. Monday’s 104-point effort against Boston College marked the fifth time this season that the Seminoles hit the century mark. That’s as many as the last 15 years combined. The difference between last season’s NIT team and this season’s ranked, surefire NCAA team has been Hamilton’s ability to re-instill work ethic on the defensive end.
The odds as they currently sit are that Hamilton will return for the 2017-18 season. Those odds would only increase if FSU can continue to have success into the postseason. What is for sure is that Hamilton’s remaining time in Tallahassee is limited; the end may be sooner rather than later.