The Seminoles captured their first ever ACC regular-season Championship with an 80-62 win over Boston College and appear primed for a deep postseason run in the NCAA Tournament after finishing the regular season with a 26-5 overall record and 16-4 in conference play. Fans in Tallahassee have already forgotten about last season’s football team thanks to the school’s play on the court.
FSU’s 71-year-old coach has slowly built the ‘Noles into a basketball school over the years after going 29-8 a year ago and finishing 10th in the final Associated Press poll.
A year later, he’s been recognized for his work.
Leonard Hamilton Wins ACC Coach of the Year
Hamilton took home Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year honors, the conference announced on Monday. Along with the 18-year FSU college basketball coach’s award, Trent Forrest was named to the All-ACC Defensive Team and freshman Patrick Williams won ACC Sixth Man of the Year.
This marks the third time Hamilton has been named coach of the year. He also did so after winning 20 or more games in 2012 and 2009. Virginia’s Tony Bennett won the award last year prior to the Cavaliers’ national championship run. Hamilton is also a candidate to win NCAA national coach of the year awards.
Florida State Wins ACC Regular Season Championship
Hamilton’s resume this season has been impressive.
The seventh-ranked Florida State Seminoles went 16-0 in ACC games at home this year. Their tough conference slate included wins over teams like Louisville, Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Clemson, North Carolina and Miami. They also stormed into Gainesville in November and whooped their rival Florida Gators, 63-51.
FSU heads into the ACC Tournament as the favorites to win it. It hasn’t claimed that since 2012 when the Noles beat the Tar Heels in the championship game, 85-82.
If Florida State can navigate through the conference tournament without problems, they’ll make their case for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament despite six other teams currently ranked ahead of them in Kentucky, San Diego State, Baylor, Dayton, Gonzaga and Kansas.
Last year, Hamilton guided FSU to the Sweet 16, where his team fell to Gonzaga. The ‘Noles last went to the Elite Eight in 2018 and haven’t been to the Final Four since 1972, when they finished runner-up in the tournament.
Hamilton, who spent time as a head coach at Oklahoma State, Miami and for the NBA’s Washington Wizards before heading to Tallahassee in 2002, is carving his name in the Florida State University history books every year.
The Division I coach should have one thing on his mind as March Madness approaches: a national title.