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FSU’s 2015 Recruiting Class Shining Brightly on NBA Landscape

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The 2015 Florida State men’s basketball recruiting class was revolutionary for the program. It transformed an FSU team who hadn’t seen a five-star prospect walk through their doors since Michael Snaer in 2009 (ESPN). 

The recruiting class in question could easily be the best in 20 years. The enrollment of 5-star Dwayne Bacon, 4-star recruits Malik Beasley, Terance Mann, 7’4” 3-star Christ Koumadje, and top 40 JUCO player Benji Bell made daunting changes, but it was an uphill battle. Their immediate impact wasn’t felt, as they went from a non-tournament team to an NIT second round exit.

The class of 2015 may not be recognized for what they accomplished on the court, even though they won 95 games in their four-year stint. However, they are responsible for the program’s most recent NCAA tournament success, including an Elite Eight and Sweet 16 run. The true magic of this team comes in the form of cultural change.

FSU occasionally snagged highly touted 4-star players on Leonard Hamilton’s watch, but never more than two in a class. Prior to their arrival, FSU was considered a football school sprinkled with stints of hoops success. One outlier example is Michael Snaer’s 2012 team that won an ACC tournament, with Snaer garnering tournament MVP honors.

This paradigm shift changed things for coaches and prospects alike. Because of their collegiate and draft success, FSU gained a new level of notoriety. 

2015 Class Skyrockets FSU

In a way, Dwayne Bacon was the school’s first projected one-and-done guy, although he’d be drafted as a sophomore. The 6-6 guard was a top-20 prospect in his class and had all the physical tools scouts could desire. He’d be drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 2017. 

In his time at Florida State, Bacon was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 15.8 points as a freshman and 17.2 as a sophomore. 

Bacon was indeed a Seminoles star, but it was another recruit from his class that showed scouts something they couldn’t pass up. 

Malik Beasley would become FSU’s unlikely one-and-done prospect. NBA scouts and college basketball analysts alike praised Beasley for his motor and functional athleticism. Proving he can knock down the open three vaulted the likely multiple year college players into many mock draft’s lotteries.

After a season that resulted in an NIT visit, Beasley earned himself a first-round selection in the ensuing NBA Draft. His 15.6 points per game coupled with his glowing review from scouts enticed the Denver Nuggets. They wound up pulling the trigger on Beasley at pick 19 in the 2016 draft.

The next year, Bacon would join his Seminole brother in the league along with another one-and-done five-star prospect Jonathan Isaac. Bacon, the 2015 product, didn’t go as high as his counterpart, but an early 2017 second-round pick to the Hornets looks good for the program.

2018 Team is “Elite”

2018 was a quiet year for the FSU’s draft prospects. With just two guys from the class remaining on the roster, the team would take their deepest dive into the big dance since 1993. 

Students of nearby universities and FSU alike could hear their midnight return as they advanced in the tournament. Blaring horns and pounding drums filled the streets of Tallahassee announcing the school’s best display in 25 years.

Their elite eight run didn’t increase the stock of their prospects, but did flex Leonard Hamilton’s coaching prowess. 

Two years later, the final members of the 2015 recruiting class would join the NBA ranks, one as a second-round pick and the other as a free-agent signee with the 76ers.

The class has done what no other recruiting class in FSU history could: get all of their remaining players to the NBA. That’s a stamp for the record books.

This band of recruits brought Florida State University into the forefront of the college basketball landscape. At least two members of this vaunted class on the roster improved, albeit with some help along the way.

Since their arrival, FSU basketball is en Vogue. No longer is it just an option for top-flight talent, but instead the school is a favorite for several players. The recruiting staff gets the credit, but the 2015 class showed the blueprint of just how successful a team under Leonard Hamilton could be.

Now their job is to succeed at the highest level of the game. Not only for themselves, but for the continued success of FSU. This group of guys haven’t eclipsed stardom, and they may never reach that pedestal. But that doesn’t matter — the 2015 recruiting class, and by extension their recruiting staff, vaulted the school’s basketball program to a new level.

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