At the start of the summer, Florida State basketball fans thought a pair of ex-Huntington Prep teammates might don Seminoles jerseys this upcoming season.
Three months after celebrated recruit Andrew Wiggins spurned his parents' alma mater in favor of Kansas, Florida State announced Monday that Wiggins' ex-teammate Xavier Rathan-Mayes has been ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA. The 6-foot-3 Rathan-Mayes, a consensus top 50 recruit in the Class of 2013, will be permitted to accept an athletic scholarship from Florida State but he will sit out the entire 2013-14 season.
The absence of Rathan-Mayes will make it more difficult for Florida State to rebound from a disappointing 18-16 season last year and return to the NCAA tournament. Leading scorer and top perimeter defender Michael Snaer graduated, athletic forward Terrance Shannon transferred to VCU and now Florida State doesn't have much of a recruiting class capable of helping to replace that production.
Rathan-Mayes showed his potential at the FIBA U-19 World Championships earlier this summer, averaging 12.2 points per game for his native Canada, albeit at a low shooting percentage. He was unlikely to start as a true freshman in Leonard Hamilton's defensive-oriented system, but he would have seen heavy minutes off the bench at either backcourt position.
Now Florida State will probably have to rely more heavily on senior Ian Miller to complement probable starters Devon Bookert and Aaron Thomas in the backcourt. The Seminoles also will have only 10 scholarship players next season, making them more vulnerable to injuries than most of their ACC peers.
An NCAA tournament berth is not out of the question for Florida State if Okaro White emerges as a go-to threat in the paint, Bookert and Thomas build on promising finishes last season and Miller stays healthy and plays with more consistency. Still, a Seminoles program that typically struggles to score will miss a talented freshman capable of putting up points in bunches either off the dribble or from the perimeter.
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