Given the layout of the Seminole roster heading toward Friday's season opener, and into the first month of the season, it's hard to argue any player being more vital to the team than forward Okaro White.
Although the return of senior guard Michael Snaer immediately altered Florida State's projections for the good, the Seminoles begin the year thin in the front court. That's where the product of White's offseason development becomes key.
In the summertime, White worked toward the goal of becoming the versatile weapon coach Leonard Hamilton has pushed for since his freshman season. White now plays a combination of small and power forward for Florida State. And lately, power forward has been the position du jour.
"I don't have a problem with it," said White, who checks in at 6-foot-8, 204 pounds this season. "I actually like it. It gives me different looks, gives me the outside shot and also gives me an inside presence. So I really like how I'm playing right now."
Generally speaking, the 'Noles have a deficit of experience up front this year.
At center Keil Turpin comes off a redshirt season while Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo are both new to the program. Bojanovsky will likely play this year, but Ojo is primed for a redshirt season.
As for the forwards, Robert Gilchrist also sees his first big time college action as a JUCO transfer. And according to Hamilton, veteran Terrance Shannon (knee) will be somewhat limited in the early part of the season as he returns to basketball shape.
Which brings the discussion back to White. The Clearwater-native is likely to start up front with Turpin in a three-guard rotation as the Seminoles begin the season Friday night against South Alabama (7 p.m. EST). White is a natural mismatch for opposing defenses, but now at times, he will have to battle bigger bodies in the post.
Although Hamilton said White was "maybe a bit ahead of schedule" in his progression, the head coach is still challenging him day-to-day.
"He's physical, he's gifted," Hamilton said. "Now he just needs to become a little more knowledgeable about how to take advantage of his talents as it relates to our system. I think he's coming along just well."
Seminoles to honor ACC Championship
Friday's opener will see the Seminoles celebrate last season's ACC Championship with the raising of the commemorative banner into the rafters of the Donald L. Tucker Center. Although his mind is on the task at hand, coach Hamilton did concede that Friday's ceremony will be a moment in which he will look back on the successes of 2011-12.
"Well you have to take into consideration that we had six guys we lost last year, several of them had been here for four years," Hamilton said. "They had a lot to do with that. I thought they were soldiers, they were committed to wanting to make Florida State men's basketball successful, and I think they accomplished it.
"So it's a tribute to them so hopefully we can recognize them in some way. But I also think it set a standard for our new players."
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