Watkins growing comfortable in garnet and gold

Jamir Watkins has proven his ability in his first start as a Seminole.
Photo by FSU athletics

By Chuck Walsh

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton has a unique way of announcing who is going to be in the starting lineup for each of the Seminoles’ games.

There’s no fanfare, no big announcement, no big block letters on the white board in the locker room.

In the case of Florida State’s exhibition game victory over Flagler on Oct. 29, the coaching staff listed the Saints’ players and which Seminole would be guarding who from the visiting team. Hamilton first announced Jalen Warley, then Darin Green Jr., then Jamir Watkins, then Baba Miller, then Cam Corhen.

Watkins, the lone newcomer in the starting lineup, took the announcement in stride.

“It felt regular to me,” said Watkins. “I’ve started before. We’ve all worked hard, and I know that our lineups are interchangeable; we are all going to share minutes. That’s a strength of our team. Being that Coach Ham and the coaching staff chose me to start, I knew that I had to have a good start to the game and bring good energy.”

A good start was exactly what Watkins brought for the Seminoles, with nine first half points on a perfect four of four shooting from the field. He was second only to sophomore Miller in first half scoring (Miller totaled 10 first half points) while leading the Seminoles in assists with two and steals with three in the first 20 minutes of the Seminoles’ 90-74 victory over Flagler at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

After he was announced as a starter in his first game in a Florida State uniform,  the junior from New Jersey accepted his leadership role and led the Seminoles in scoring with 18 points, in steals with five, and tied for the team lead in assists with three. Watkins played a very productive 27 minutes in his first game in the garnet and gold.

Hamilton was impressed with Watkins’ first start for his new team.

“Jamir is really talented offensively,” said Hamilton. “He is able to make plays because of his strength, hands, and ball handling skills.

“We play a position-less type of basketball where all of the positions are interchangeable. The only real position we have is the center position. Our tempo wasn’t quite what I like it to be (against Flagler). A lot of these guys have adjustment’s they need to make to play at the pace we want to play offensively and defensively.”

Watkins, who helped lead VCU to the NCAA Tournament appearance in 2023 before transferring to Florida State, is no stranger to being in the starting lineup. He was a starter for the Rams in 17 games during the 2022-23 season. The 2021 High School Player of the Year in New Jersey scored in double figures in 19 of VCU’s 35 games, including his career-high of 22 points against Northern Illinois and Richmond last season.

As impressive as his 18 points were, Watkins’ earned a game-high five steals against Flagler – a total that would stand as his career high if the game had been played during the regular season. He enters his third collegiate season with 64 career steals in 61 career games – an average of just under 1.1 steals per game.

“It felt good to get out on the court and play with the new team that we have,” said Watkins. “We are still building the bonds that we need to be successful. We are more tied into each other which gives us the ability to execute plays and be connected on defense which allows us to get more stops.”

The Florida State players continued to strengthen their team bond against Valdosta State, their final exhibition game against.

Florida State opens its regular season Friday 6 p.m. against Kennesaw State – the night prior to the nationally ranked Seminoles’ football game against Miami at Doak Campbell Stadium.

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