Hamilton named to national Coach of the Year Watch list

Leonard Hamilton is one of two ACC coaches on Coach of the Year watch list.
Photo special to the Outlook

By Chuck Walsh

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton, who has led the FSU men’s basketball team to a 12-3 overall record and an 8-2 (ACC) going into last Saturday’s game, has been named to the Late Season Watch List for the Werner Ladder Naismith National Coach of the Year. Hamilton is a candidate for the National Coach of the Year Award for the second consecutive season. He is one of two ACC coaches on the list.

Hamilton and his staff have guided the Seminoles to a No. 16 national ranking just one season after losing three players to the NBA and a fourth who is enjoying a significant career as a professional player in Europe. Gone from last season’s ACC Championship and NCAA Championship favorite are Patrick Williams (No. 4 overall pick of the Chicago Bulls in the 2021 NBA Draft), Devin Vassell (No. 11 overall pick of the San Antonio Spurs), Trent Forrest (a free agent signee who is currently earning playing time with the Utah Jazz) and Dominik Olejniczak (currently averaging a double double in points and rebounds as a standout in the Polish Basketball League).

Prior to last weekend’s game, the Seminoles had a 12-3 overall record with four wins over national ranked teams this season. The Seminoles have earned wins over No. 7 Virginia, No. 20 Clemson, No. 25 Florida and No. 25 Louisville and are tied for the ACC lead with four wins over nationally ranked teams this season. Florida State has also earned a win over Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and has been ranked in the AP and USA Today Polls in 14 of 16 weeks since beginning the season ranked No. 21 in the AP Poll.

Hamilton, who has won nearly 600 games and who is the fifth all-time winningest coach in ACC history, was named earlier this season as a ballot eligible candidate for the Naismith Hall of Fame Class of 2021. Hamilton highlights the list of four first time coaching candidates including Ken Anderson (Wisconsin-Eau Claire), Lou Henson (Hardin-Simmons, New Mexico State, Illinois) and Paul Westhead (NBA and College).

Hamilton is in his 19th season as the Seminoles’ Head Coach and is the winningest coach in program history with 372 wins during his tenure at Florida State. He has led Florida State to a pair of ACC Championships (2012 and 2020) and to seven NCAA Tournament appearances. In his first 18 years at Florida State, the Seminoles have advanced to the postseason 14 times with trips to the West Regional Finals (2018) and West Regional Semifinals (2019) in the last NCAA appearances for the Seminoles.

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