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Hamilton ahead of schedule at Florida State

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Oct. 13
Down in Florida State Seminoles land, fans immediately think about coach Bobby Bowden, QB Chris Rix and the football program, even with the disappointing loss to Miami. There's plenty of talk about the success of the football team but very little discussion about the hoops squad, baby!

Let me tell you, if you are a Seminole fan, start to think about the basketball team. I said it when Leonard Hamilton was hired as head coach and I will say it again -- he will find a way to get the Seminoles in the first division in the ACC.

Leonard Hamilton
Hamilton
Originally, I said it would take him four years. My friends, it looks like I was wrong -- it will take less time. As he enters his second season in Tallahassee, this guy is beating the bushes and working relentlessly in the world of recruiting, where he has proven over the years that he can match wits with the best of them.

Consider his success as an assistant coach at Kentucky. Then he moved on to become head coach at Oklahoma State. He built the foundation of the program, which set the stage for the Cowboys to eventually go to the Final Four in 1995 under Eddie Sutton.

Think about what Hamilton did at Miami, where the Hurricanes constantly shocked the big boys in the Big East. Hamilton's patience paid off as Miami went to three straight NCAA tournaments, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2000.

After a year trying his hand in the NBA as head coach of the Wizards, going for the quick cash, you can see why Florida State athletic director Dave Hart hired him. He has college written all over him. The NBA just wasn't his bag. I think he realized it from the moment he got there. But the dollars were too big to say no to Michael Jordan and Co. in the nation's capital.

Now Hamilton seems to be settled in Tallahassee. The good news keeps coming in, as Florida State beat out Kentucky one-on-one for a verbal commitment from 6-3 guard Jason Rich of Orlando. Rich is an outstanding player, ranked in the top 25 by most recruiting gurus.

The Seminoles also landed another tremendous talent, guard Isaiah Swann. With Von Wafer already on the scene for this season, Florida State is adding the kind of building blocks that are needed to have a solid basketball program.

It's all because of the effort, energy and work ethic of Hamilton. Get ready, Seminole fans! Bobby Bowden, get to know Mr. Hamilton, because he too will have a winning program down in Tallahassee.

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