Florida State Men's Basketball: Jamir Watkins delivers junior year to remember

Virginia Tech v Florida State
Virginia Tech v Florida State / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

VCU transfer Jamir Watkins was looking for a new home. To finish his college career, he wanted to join a program that believed in him and would help him elevate his game. That’s where Leonard Hamilton and the Florida State Seminoles came into play and welcomed Watkins with open arms in Tallahassee. 

The Seminoles were coming off of one of their worst seasons in program history, finishing the 2022-23 campaign at 9-23. It’s not like a Leonard Hamilton team to look unimpressive through an entire season. That’s where Florida State looked to improve during the offseason. Adding Watkins was a great step in the right direction. They may have not elevated as favorites in the ACC but were projected to make a huge improvement from the previous year. 

As Watkins began his new chapter in Tallahassee, he was projected to be one of the starting guards next to Jalen Warley. This was a huge upgrade for the junior compared to being a member of the second unit for two seasons at VCU. What the Seminoles needed was a star who could take the team to different heights. They featured a great supporting cast but were missing a standout player. 

Jamir Watkins stepped up to the plate immediately. From the start of the season, he showed his versatility as an elite two-way talent. Offensively, Watkins has a strong build and can attack driving lanes for high-percentage shots. Let’s also not forget to mention his improvements on the perimeter. Defensively, Watkins is also a jack of all trades. He emerged as one of the best defenders in the ACC with his terrific ball pressure as well as defending multiple positions. 

Watkins proved to be the best player on the floor. When the pressure became tight, he rose to the occasion. Look at the Sunshine Slam Tournament as an example. Watkins was the biggest X-Factor for Florida State as he led the charge against UNLV and Colorado to take home the title. The world got a better understanding of Jamir Watkins after the Tournament as he showed all the tools of a star player. 

Sure, Florida State had a rollercoaster season. However, Watkins continued to put the world on notice. He was so impressive that NBA Draft gurus began to put him on their draft boards. As conference play began, Watkins continued to lead the way for Florida State. He had a huge performance against Miami on January 17 with 15 points and a monstrous dunk in the second half. He later followed that performance with 27 points and 11 rebounds in a big win over Syracuse. 

The momentum continued for Watkins in the ACC Tournament. As they were the ninth seed, they believed they had all the tools to succeed in Washington DC. Watkins delivered a complete performance with 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 steals. It was a master showing from the junior guard with his ability to dissect the defense and attack the driving lanes. Unfortunately, the Seminoles fell short to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the next round. 

Florida State finished their season with a 17-16 and did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. However, there are still some bright parts of this basketball team to be proud of. Jamir Watkins was a shining factor for Florida State. He was so impressive that he should’ve made an All-ACC team instead of an honorable mention. Watkins’ impact showed across the stat shed for Florida State as he led the team in three different categories of points, rebounds, and steals which shows his true value and leadership. 

As Florida State’s basketball season has come to a close. The question is what is next for Jamir Watkins? Would he like to stay another season as a Seminole or take his endeavors to the NBA? Watkins has built a home in Tallahassee. Regardless of Florida State’s season, his name should be mentioned as one of the most emerging players in the ACC.

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