This hasn’t been a season to remember, but few can question Florida State head men’s basketball coach Leonard Hamilton’s legendary status.
In more than two decades in Tallahassee, Hamilton has guided the Seminoles to more than 400 wins, nine NCAA Tournament appearances, two ACC championships, four Sweet 16s, and one Elite Eight. His FSU debut came on this day 20 years ago in a 79-46 win over Savannah State.
Hamilton had previously coached at Oklahoma State, Miami where he was named Big East Coach of the Year and in the NBA for the Washington Wizards when he took on a new challenge in Tallahassee. FSU was coming off four straight losing seasons and a 12-17 finish as the Seminoles took the court at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Nov. 24, 2002.
It wasn’t a great shooting night, but FSU dominated on the glass and forced 32 turnovers in the victory. The Tigers shot just 30% from the field in the loss.
Tim Pickett finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and six steals in his FSU debut. Andrew Wilson added 11 points while Michael Joiner and Anthony Richardson each tallied 10.
FSU finished just 14-15 in Hamilton’s first season but has had just one losing season since. In addition to FSU’s many accomplishments during his tenure, Hamilton is regarded as a trail blazer for minority coaches.
He is the only Black coach in the conference’s history to win ACC Coach of the Year three times. His debut in Tallahassee came on this day two decades ago.