The Florida State University men's basketball team signed another top-25 ranked basketball recruiting class as Head Coach Leonard Hamilton and his staff signed Bernard James, Ian Miller and Okaro White to National Letters of Intent. The class is ranked 22nd nationally by Rivals.com marking the eighth consecutive season the Hamilton and the Seminoles have signed a top-25 ranked recruiting class.
"We are very excited about the three players we have signed during the early signing period," said Hamilton. "We have added three quality players and three outstanding young men to our roster. All three are great fits for our team and will become great teammates. They are players of strong character and people who will develop into life-long leaders."
James, a 6-9 forward, will transfer to Florida State from Tallahassee Community College where he is a preseason All-America First Team selection in his second season with the highly ranked Eagles. He is the Eagles' leader after serving as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force stationed at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. In August of 2007 he was stationed at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq as a member of the Air Force Military Police.
While in the Air Force James was a member of the United State's Armed Forces All-Star team that competed at the International Military Sports Council Basketball Championship in 2008. James led the United States to the team championship and was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and to the All-Tournament team.
"Florida State is the perfect place for me and the coaching staff will help me become a better player each day," said James. I'm excited and looking forward to playing with the Seminole players and for the Florida State coaches because I know that I can grow as a player and contribute to the success of the team. Coach Hamilton is a great person with great roots and is a coach who I know will help me become a better man and help me improve as a player each day."
James (Savannah, Ga./Richard Arnold High School) was an All-Panhandle Conference First Team selection and the Panhandle Conference Freshman of the Year in 2009. He averaged 12.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots in his first season at TCC. James is averaging a double-double of 17.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in the first two games of the 2009-10 season for the Eagles.
"Not only is Florida State getting an outstanding person but they are getting a very talented basketball player," said TCC head coach Eddie Barnes. "He is a young man who is maturing, coming into his own and has a chance to be an immediate impact player for Coach Hamilton. Anyone who has been around BJ knows that he is a special person; the type of person I would call a role model."
Miller, a 6-3 combo guard, will enter Florida State in the fall after a standout two-year career at United Faith Christian Academy in Charlotte, N.C. He is ranked as the 70th best high school player in the nation by Rivals.com. Miller led United Faith to the 1A state championship during his junior season as he hit the game-winning 3-point shot in the championship game.
"I am really happy to be a Florida State Seminole," said Miller. "I felt from the beginning that it was the right place for me. I am excited about playing for Coach Hamilton and his staff because they will help me become a better player. To tell you the truth, it felt like home from the beginning and that's what I liked the most."
Miller averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds in earning All-State First Team honors as a junior. He was named the Player of the Year in the state of North Carolina, also, as a junior by the Charlotte Observer. As a sophomore Miller (Charlotte, N.C.) averaged 25.0 points per game at South Mecklenburg High School before transferring to United Faith.
White, a 6-9 power forward, is one of the top players in the Sunshine state who will be one of four Floridians on the Seminoles' roster during the 2010-11 season. He is ranked as the 59th best high school player in the nation by Rivals.com. White (Clearwater, Fla.) averaged 20.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots as a junior at Clearwater High School. He was named the Pinellas County Player of the Year in 2009 by the St. Petersburg Times.
"When you find an opportunity that will allow you to reach your fullest potential, you have to take advantage of that opportunity," said White. "Playing for coach Hamilton and his staff will help me to become the best player I can be. It will also be wonderful to play my college basketball in the state of Florida where my mother can see me play most of my games."
White led Clearwater to the Florida High School 5A state championship game as a junior as he developed into one of the top rated juniors in the nation. He scored 21 points for the Tornadoes in the state championship game and was named the Pinellas County Player of the Year by the St. Petersburg Times. White also played for Nike Team Florida and participated in Amare Stoudemire's Nike Elite Camp and the LeBron James Skill Camp this past summer.
"Okaro is a talented player who has the chance to be a very good player for Florida State," said Clearwater head coach Alan Carter. "He's got talent and is advanced on the defensive side of the court which not many high school players can say. As soon as his offense catches up to his defense, and it will, he has the chance to be a very special player. From a coaching standpoint, he has really stepped up his leadership qualities so far this season. When you combine his defensive abilities with his growing leadership qualities, you have the making of a special player."
Florida State opens its 2009-10 season Nov. 16 against Jacksonville at 7:00 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Florida State finished with a 25-10 overall record and in fourth place in the ACC standings last season. The Seminoles played in the ACC Tournament championship game for the first time in school history and made it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time this decade.