Notes: Hamilton pleased with Fletcher, seeking more from Polite

Florida State (7-4, 1-1 ACC) is back on the road on Tuesday, playing at Wake Forest on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on Bally Sports’ regional sports networks (formerly known as channels like Fox Sports Florida and Fox Sports South). Below are some notes on the Seminoles, with thoughts from Leonard Hamilton.

Fletcher’s emergence

Cam’Ron Fletcher played one of his best games in Saturday’s win over NC State, although the six turnovers are a glaring point on his stat line. Still, the Kentucky transfer scored a season-best 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting and had a season-high six rebounds. His three steals are the most since the season-opening five he had in the win over Penn. He also played without a clear mask, a good sign that he is putting the injury from the Purdue game a month ago behind him.

“Cam is definitely in a learning mode, learning our system offensively and defensively,” Hamilton said. “He has a tremendous amount of energy and he makes a few mistakes because he’s kind of a risk taker and he’s an aggressive, confident guy. He’s only scratching the surface of what his potential could be. But to his credit, he’s been really working hard.”

Polite but (more) aggressive

Anthony Polite is often viewed as one of FSU’s top defenders but he has had an up-and-down season on the offensive end of the court. He is shooting just 29.3 percent from 3-point range and has made 40 percent of his shots from the floor in just four of 11 games. And perhaps it’s no coincidence that all four of those games (Penn, Missouri, Boston University and Lipscomb) were wins.

A redshirt senior guard, Hamilton says Polite needs to see an expanded role on the 2021-22 team.

“He’s such an unselfish guy that we’ve had to prod him to be a little bit more aggressive offensively,” Hamilton said. “We all know he rebounds and defends very well, but he’s unselfish, tries to be a team guy. This particular edition of Seminole basketball, we need him to be a little more aggressive offensively than what he’s been in the past. And that’s a little bit of a challenge for him.”

New guys

FSU is leaning on three freshmen (John Butler, Matthew Cleveland and Jalen Warley) and three transfers (Caleb Mills, Naheem McLeod and Fletcher) as part of its rotation. That has led to growing pains, Hamilton said.

“I look up many times and I have four and sometimes even five first-year players on the floor at one time,” Hamilton said. “That’s the complete opposite from the way we have been (in prior seasons). … Now, the inexperienced guys, the first-year guys outweigh the veterans and it’s presenting a little bit of a challenge for all of us. We’re making progress though.”

Quick hitters

Matthew Cleveland, who enters Tuesday’s game averaging 9.6 points scored per games, was named the ACC Freshman of the Week on Monday. He earned his first career double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds in FSU’s 83-81 win over NC State on Saturday.

Redshirt senior Malik Osborne is shooting .541 from the field, .500 from the 3-point line and .813 from the free-throw line. He has increased his shooting percentage by 11 percentage points, his 3-point percentage by nearly 20 percentage points and his free-throw percentage by more than 14 percentage points.

FSU is 80-24 (.769 winning percentage) since the start of the 2018-19 season. The Seminoles finished 29- 8 in 2018-19, 26-5 in 2019-20 and were 18-7 during the 2020-21 season. 

The Seminoles have won four straight over Wake Forest, including an overtime victory in Tallahassee last season.