Despite top-20 class, Florida State can expect a step backwards

AP Photo/Joe Skipper

We continue our recruit and return series with the Florida State Seminoles, whose season ended Saturday with a loss to Xavier in the West Region. Here's a look at what the 2017-18 season could hold:

Possible 2017-18 starting five

G: Xavier Rathan-Mayes

G: Trent Forrest

G: Terance Mann

F: Phil Cofer

C: Ikey Obiagu (freshman)

Who is lost: Freshman forward Jonathan Isaac will be a surefire lottery pick after this season and is likely gone. A year ago, both Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes declared for the NBA Draft before withdrawing their names and returning to Tallahassee. Both have had good years and could decide to enter the draft for good this time, as Rathan-Mayes will be 23 years old in April, and Bacon isn’t likely to boost his stock any higher after averaging 17 points this season. That Isaac and Bacon will depart is the most logical assumption. There were just two seniors on Leonard Hamilton’s team this season, and neither plays more than 15 minutes per game. Michael Ojo has been the starting center for the Seminoles all season, using his 7-foot-1, 300-plus-pound frame to grab a few rebounds and get a few putback finishes. Power forward Jarquez Smith was an intriguing prospect coming out of high school, but he never truly took the next step.

Who is added: Hamilton is a monster on the recruiting trail and is bringing in yet another top-20 recruiting class next season. That said, there is no clear-cut star in this group like there was with Isaac, Bacon, Malik Beasley, etc. The headliner in the 2017 class is ESPN 100 Ikey Obiagu, one of the best shot-blockers in the country. Florida State usually has an assortment of big men who play spot minutes, but Obiagu could see the floor early and often due to his defensive ability. Four-star power forward Raiquan Gray and Wyatt Wilkes will contribute, as Gray is more of an inside player and Wilkes the combo type. Four-star shooting guard Anthony Polite and three-star guard Bryan Trimble round out the class.

What it means for next season: Much of the Seminoles’ projected lineup depends on what happens with the NBA Draft. If Rathan-Mayes returns, he will go back to being the team’s go-to-guy on the offensive end like he was as a freshman, when he averaged nearly 15 points and took 151 shots more than anyone else on the team. His playmaking and distribution have drastically improved since then, though. Former ESPN 100 prospects C.J. Walker and Trent Forrest will see a boost in minutes on the perimeter. Walker could start at the point guard spot, while Forrest can do a little bit of everything in the backcourt. Terance Mann had a very solid year starting alongside Rathan-Mayes and will also be back. Up front, Hamilton will be counting on more production from the likes of Phil Cofer and Christ Koumadje.

Trending: Down. If Bacon and Isaac both leave, it’s hard to see Florida State repeating its success of this past season, even if Rathan-Mayes returns. There are some quality pieces on the perimeter, though, and Hamilton might have to play more small ball.