An early look ahead to the 2021-22 Florida State basketball team
It's never too early to look ahead to the next Florida State men's basketball season.
The Seminoles saw their 2020-21 season come to an end in the Sweet 16 Sunday night with a 76-58 loss to No. 1 seed Michigan.
After losing two NBA lottery picks and the winningest player in program history after the 2019-20 season, FSU finished this season with an 18-7 record (11-4 in ACC).
It speaks to how far the program has come that FSU was again a strong NCAA Tournament contender after losing so much.
FSU should again lose a few key players, but should have an extremely solid core entering next season.
Here's an early look at who FSU could lose and who it is adding to next year's team.
Which Seminoles are very likely gone?
Senior guard M.J. Walker
2020-21 stats: 12.2 points per game, 2.5 assists per game, 2.5 rebounds per game
Walker's FSU career doesn't have to be over. He could use his extra year of eligibility granted to everyone by the NCAA due to the coronavirus pandemic and said he would consider that after Sunday's loss.
But everything else he said after Sunday's game and the Senior Day recognition he got at FSU's final home game this season alluded to this being the end of his FSU career.
Walker was a significant four-year contributor for the Seminoles and became the 49th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points earlier this season.
It's a shame he was dealing with some injuries down the stretch of the season that kept him from playing to his full potential. But he will still be remembered as an FSU trailblazer that was the first Seminole to play in three Sweet 16s.
Freshman guard Scottie Barnes
2020-21 stats: 10.3 ppg, 4.1 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 steals per game
The highest-rated recruit in program history, Barnes is an expected lottery/first-round pick in this year's NBA Draft and it's all but assured he will depart after one year at FSU.
His 6-foot-9 frame and his strong ability as a passer made him a tough matchup for guards at both ends of the court all season long.
He'll be more of a pick based on potential than an instant-impact player at the next level, but his potential future projection has NBA scouts drooling.
Decisions to make
Redshirt junior forward RaiQuan Gray
2020-21 stats: 11.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 spg
Gray's decision to stay or go pro is the biggest decision of the offseason surrounding the FSU program.
He's an interesting prospect as a 6-foot-8, 260-pound forward who is extremely capable of handling the ball. He was also by far FSU's most consistent offensive option for the second half of the Seminoles' season.
Gray could probably stand another year and would be a star for FSU next season, but after four years at FSU and with him set to turn 22 in July, he may be ready to start his professional career.
Gray tweeted, "We'll be back," Monday morning, but it's not clear yet if he'll be a part of that.
Sophomore center Balsa Koprivica
2020-21 stats: 9.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.4 blocks per game
Koprivica took a big step forward this season for the Seminoles. He moved into the starting lineup and was far more productive than in his reserve role as a freshman.
A 7-foot-1 center who can move as well as him is definitely an exciting prospect to NBA teams, but he has even more to prove than Gray by returning for at least one more season with the Seminoles.
He could decide to go pro, but his performance against Michigan (seven points and three rebounds in 22 minutes) shows how much he could benefit from returning.
Which FSU basketball players are likely to return in 2021-2022?
Redshirt junior guard Anthony Polite
2020-21 stats: 10.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 43.6% three-point shooting
Redshirt junior forward Malik Osborne
2020-21 stats: 5.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Redshirt junior guard Sardaar Calhoun
2020-21 stats: 5.3 ppg, 39.7% three-point shooting
Redshirt senior center Tanor Ngom
2020-21 stats: 2.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Redshirt senior guard RayQuan Evans
2020-21 stats: 5.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.4 apg
Redshirt junior guard Wyatt Wilkes
2020-21 stats: 3.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 38.1% three-point shooting
Redshirt senior guard Nathanael Jack
2020-21 stats: 3.6 ppg, 37% three-point shooting
Redshirt freshman center Quincy Ballard
2020-21 stats: 1.2 ppg, 0.7 rpg
Analysis: The extra eligibility granted by the NCAA means the Seminoles could be bringing back an even deeper group of returning players than normal.
Jack and Ngom would have both been out of eligibility after this season, but both passed up the opportunity to be honored on Senior Day, meaning they will both likely use that extra year.
Polite and Osborne will be very nice pieces to bring back and Calhoun should see his role grow in his second season with the Seminoles.
The new NCAA transfer rule expected to pass that will give everyone a one-time instant-eligibility waiver has led to chaos in the transfer portal with about 1,000 college basketball players currently looking for a new school.
This could lead a few current Seminoles to explore other options, with the likeliest options as Evans and Jack. But the portal is also something the Seminoles could benefit from this offseason if they do lose a few players.
Florida State basketball newcomers
Houston transfer guard Caleb Mills
Career stats: 12.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.0 apg
Five-star small forward Matthew Cleveland
No. 22 overall player and No. 6 small forward in 2021 class
Four-star combo guard Jalen Warley
No. 28 overall player and No. 3 combo guard in 2021 class
Four-star center John Butler
No. 64 overall player and No. 9 center in 2021 class
Three-star junior college center Naheem McLeod
No. 6 overall junior college player, No. 3 junior college center in 2021 class
Analysis: FSU's recruiting has been much-improved for a number of years now, but the Seminoles' 2021 class is definitely a new peak.
FSU's 2021 class currently ranks as the second-best in the country behind only Oregon. That doesn't factor in Mills, who was picked as the AAC Preseason Player of the Year before transferring to FSU in January.
A number of these players seem likely to make immediate impacts. They may limit some playing time for some of the returning Seminoles or it's also possible FSU embraces perhaps an especially deep rotation even by FSU's standards.
Whatever the solution, there's a lot to like about the state of FSU's upcoming roster at the start of the 2021 offseason.
Reach Curt Weiler at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.
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