FSU Basketball: Smith vying for more minutes

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Florida State freshman Jarquez Smith (5) is making a push for more minutes. (AP Photo/Mark Crammer)

FSU’s 6’9″ freshman making a push for more playing time

Although Florida State is averaging more than 73 points-per-game this season, the Seminoles have seen a significant dip in offensive production since the start of ACC play. The M.O. for FSU under head coach Leonard Hamilton has always been defense, but since the beginning of conference play just over two weeks ago, it has become obvious that the Seminoles could use another guy who can put the ball in the basket.

As Hamilton’s squads always have, Florida State is loaded with size as FSU has two 7-footers that see significant playing time as well as four other players, who are at least 6’7″. Despite having more size than most of its opponents, Florida State is averaging just 61 points-per-game in ACC play. Outside of senior forward Okaro White and sophomore center Boris Bojanovsky, FSU has found little offense inside.

There weren’t many bright spots in Saturday’s 78-66 loss at Virginia, but one of the few was freshman forward Jarquez Smith. Smith is a lanky 6’9″ 19-year-old with a lot of athleticism and a ton of upside. Nevertheless, Smith receives the fewest minutes-per-game of any of the nine players in Hamilton’s rotation.

Smith is putting up just 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds-per-game this season. In just 10 minutes on Saturday however, Smith scored consecutive baskets including just his third three-pointer of the season and was 2-for-2 from the field with five points and three rebounds.

While the game was for the most part already decided, Smith gave Florida State a noticeable lift on both ends of the court Saturday. Since the start of ACC play, Smith has shot a stellar 8-for-12 from the floor which includes a 4-for-5 effort at Clemson on January 9th when Smith scored a career-high eight points.

While Smith isn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard, he has been more productive in fewer minutes than either starting senior forward Robert Gilchrist or reserve sophomore center Michael Ojo. In ACC play, Smith has scored more points than both Ojo and Gilchrist combined and certainly brings more versatility, more offense and to this point, greater efficiency.

At 12-5 overall and 3-2 in ACC play, Florida State is in good shape as it looks for a strong finish to the second half of the season. FSU will host Notre Dame on Tuesday night before paying visits to Duke and N.C. State. Although the Seminoles are 3-2 in conference action, the Florida State offense has been for the most part stagnant over the past five games. Florida State has gotten very little inside, but with more minutes, Smith could bring more energy, more athleticism and more offense.

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