What a wonderful week for FSU basketball fans! Their basketball team traveled to Daytona Beach and took care of business by winning the Sunshine Slam Championship. The matchups against UNLV and Colorado were not easy matches but the Noles were able to play together down the stretch and come out on top in both games. The leading factor in their run was Jamie Wakins, who shined on both ends of the floor.
Coming into the season, the Noles knew that Watkins could make an immediate impact. Being a transfer from VCU, head coach Leonard Hamilton made him one of the starting guards without hesitation. He has tremendous size and can produce with a combination of scoring, playmaking, etc. As the Noles were competing for the championship, Watkins’ skillset was on full display as he led his team to success.
The Noles traveled to Daytona Beach still shaken from their 89-68 defeat against the Florida Gators. The team had a disappointing defensive performance as the Gators shot 51 percent from the field. Luckily, the Noles used the weekend to look back on their performance and make the adjustment necessary moving forward.
The first matchup of the Sunshine Slam Tournament was the UNLV Rebels. The Rebels are a very efficient team as they move the ball extremely well to find quality shots. The Seminoles had to figure out how they would set up their half-court defense to slow down the offense of UNLV.
Leave it to Jamie Watkins to be the leading factor for Florida State. He did a great job of stepping up and being the number-one option on offense. The beauty of Watkins’ game is he plays at his own pace and always plays with the utmost confidence. He did a great job of finding driving lanes and finding high-percentage shots at the basket. With Watkins leading the way, the Seminoles had a terrific performance offensively as they shot 62 percent from the floor.
Watkins finished with 19 points along with eight assists. Because of his playmaking, players like Cam Corhen, Darin Green Jr, and others were able to contribute offensively. The momentum carried over to the championship game against Colorado. The Noles were prepared to have their hands full against a team that was ranked 18th in the country. While the game came down to the wire, it was Florida State who made the right plays down the stretch.
One of the biggest issues for Florida State was slowing down Colorado inside and giving up easy opportunities. Their lack of size has been one of their weaknesses as they fail to box out and give teams more opportunities. Colorado outrebounded Florida State 46-38 while securing 19 offensive rebounds during the process.
As they did in their first game against UNLV, the Seminoles continued to ride the hot hand of Jamir Watkins. He continued to be effective both with and without the ball in his hands and took high-percentage shots. Watkins continued to manipulate the defense with his shiftiness and ability to find openings to attack. At one point, Colorado climbed their way back into the game after Florida State went on a 16-3 run in the middle of the second half. Once again, the Noles put the ball in Watkins’ hands to put pressure on the defense and make plays.
The contest went into overtime and the Noles came out the gates swinging by scoring the first nine points of the extra period. With that being said, the momentum continued as they came out on top in a 77-71 victory. The Seminoles backcourt led the way on both ends as Watkins scored 18 points alongside Jalen Worley leading the way with 19. In the end, it was the junior guard who was named the Tournament MVP.
Watkins led the way for Florida State during the Tournament by averaging 18.7 points along with seven rebounds on 70 percent shooting. The Noles went into Daytona Beach and found the success they were looking for. It was important that they bounced back from their game against Florida and made adjustments on both ends of the floor.
Before the season, I questioned who could become the go-to guy for Florida State. Who could be the guy to call upon to make plays when they mattered most? Jamir Watkins showed that he can be the guy to step up and lead the way for Florida State. Although some areas in his game still need work, he has the potential to grow as the number one option for the Seminoles.