Life begins without Singleton for 'Noles

F Chris Singleton (Jamie Squire/Getty)

If Florida State is going to be a player in the ACC and make a fourth straight trip to the tournament, then coach Leonard Hamilton must find a way to replace first-round pick Chris Singleton.

College basketball is a cycle. Players come and go. That is a certainty.

Another certainty is that some players are missed more than others. Chris Singleton is one of those players.

The 18th-overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft will soon begin his professional career with the Washington Wizards. Florida State will begin trying to find a way to replace him.

It won't be easy.

The 6-9 forward led the 2010-11 Seminoles in scoring and rebounding. He averaged 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

And despite Singleton's offensive production, where the Seminoles will really miss him the most is on the defensive end. Arguably one of the best defensive players in the country, Singleton would consistently use his long wingspan to enter passing lanes and disrupt offensive sets. He was a major reason why FSU was one of the best defensive teams in college basketball during his time in Tallahassee.

The question must be posed: Who will replace Singleton? If coach Leonard Hamilton is going to make a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance this coming March, then it's a question that needs to be answered quickly.

With Singleton now in the NBA and Derwin Kitchen lost to graduation, FSU's top returning scorer is junior guard Michael Snaer. Snaer averaged 8.8 points per game during the 2010-11 season and led the team in three-point shooting percentage.

However, Deividas Dulkys led the team in three-point field goals made with 55. The guard from Lithuania enters his senior season ranked seventh in school history with 155 career three pointers. Dulkys paced the 'Noles in scoring four times last season, including a key 17-point contribution in a road victory over Miami.

Outside scoring from Snaer and Dulkys could help ease the loss of Singleton, but the player who may take his place in the starting lineup is sophomore Okaro White. White led the Seminoles in free-throw shooting during his freshman season, converting at an impressive 82.8-percent clip from the line. He is a defensive specialist who uses his lengthy frame to disrupt enemy passes. White could help fill the defensive void left open due to Singleton's departure.

Although White can help fill a defensive hole, a presence in the paint is always needed. Bernard James will need to continue to be that presence. Last season was James' first with the garnet and gold. The 6-10 forward averaged 8.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

One of the highlight performances of James' season came in the second round of the NCAA Tournament versus Notre Dame. James dominated the defensive glass and finished with a double-double, collecting a total of 10 rebounds and adding 14 points. At times last season, James was the dependable inside threat that the Seminoles have been lacking in recent years.

With James, junior Terrance Shannon and seniors Xavier Gibson and Jon Kreft, FSU has the potential to feature one of the more imposing frontcourts in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

However, some new faces will be fighting to enter the rotation this season.

Highly-touted freshman Terry Whisnant could add shooting and scoring ability at the guard position. Whisnant earned Mr. Basketball honors in North Carolina as a high school senior. During that year, he averaged 31.7 points per game and set a school record for points scored in a single season.

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Four-star prospect Antwan Space will join Whisnant on the roster this season. The 6-8 forward averaged a double-double as a high school senior. He has the skills to fill it up in the paint and from the perimeter.

Both Whisnant and Space could have an impact on the 2011-12 campaign.

Florida State's 2011-12 season will begin October 31st. Lots of questions will be answered before that date, but the biggest remains: Who will replace Singleton's production?

We'll have to wait and see.


Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.

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