CJ Walker may be gone, but Florida State may not lose much with his transfer replacement.
Over the weekend, Albany guard David Nichols announced the decision to play his final season in Tallahassee. FSU is still awaiting the verdict on whether or not leading scorer Phil Cofer gets a fifth year of eligibility, but the addition of Nichols will likely complete the 2018-19 scholarship roster.
As a junior for the Great Danes last season, Nichols averaged 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Compare that to Walker, who put up eight points per game, 2.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and one steal per game.
While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparing ACC competition to American East competition, one area where Walker did fare better was with efficiency. Walker shot 41.2 percent from the field, compared to Nichols’ 39.4 percent.
As far as efficiency goes however, this past season was an outlier for Nichols. The year prior, he shot 44 percent from the field and as a freshman during the 2015-16 season, he was 13-for-23. Nichols did shoot nearly 37 percent from distance last season, which is slightly better than the Seminoles shot as a team.
After averaging nearly 34 minutes per game last season, Nichols should expect to see a diminished role for the Seminoles. Trent Forrest emerged late during the 2017-18 season for Florida State and should get the majority of the minutes at the point guard position.
With Braian Angola and Walker gone however, don’t be surprised if Nichols’ role is still significant. Angola averaged 27.5 minutes per game while Walker averaged 23.2. Nichols should expect to see somewhere in that range.
Putting it into perspective
While the competition in the American East pales in comparison to the ACC, it should be noted the Nichols’ numbers this past season would have led the Seminoles in points, ranked fifth in rebounds, second in assists, third in steals and fifth in three-point percentage. Nichols will also be bringing a better than 77 percent mark from the foul line to an FSU team that was next-to-last in free throw shooting in the ACC for most of last season. Only Angola shot at a better clip this past season.
In the past, transfer point guards have seemed to work out well for Florida State. Auburn transfer Toney Douglas spent three seasons in Tallahassee and averaged 21.5 points as a senior for the 2008-09 campaign, leading FSU to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years. Iowa transfer Jeff Peterson ranked third for the Seminoles in assists during their ACC title season of 2011-12.