When gyms shut down across the country and rims were removed from outdoor playgrounds, basketball players had to get creative with their workouts.
Wyatt Wilkes was no exception. But he also got into the best shape of his life. Running? Yes. Swimming? Yes. Boxing? Yes.
“I got in fantastic shape,” Wilkes said. “And it’s a lot of fun, too.”
The Florida State forward found it to be one of the best workouts possible. Wyatt’s dad, Glenn, coaches the women’s basketball team at Rollins College. When he went back home this spring, Wyatt went home and was able to shoot in the driveway and take shots by himself.
But a friend at Rollins College years ago had suggested boxing and Wilkes found the workouts to be intense, wearing him out in 15 minutes. He revisited boxing again this spring and summer, hanging a heavy bag as part of his workouts.
“I live on a lake so I would swim laps every day,” Wilkes said. “Go run sand pits on a volleyball court. And I would do a lot of form shooting. A few hundred form shots.”
Shooting has always been Wilkes’ forte. He averaged 3.5 points per game in 2019-20, but Wilkes had the ability to play significant minutes and deliver on any given night. One of those games was a Jan. 25 home game against Notre Dame, in which he shot 6 of 10 from the floor (5 of 6 from beyond the arc) and scored 19 points in 19 minutes.
Wilkes’ role is pretty much defined. He started just one of 28 games last season, and he will be a spark off the bench when FSU opens against Gardner Webb on Nov. 27. And odds are good he will be standing up, cheering on teammates.
Behind closed doors, in FSU’s practices, Wilkes has also been a valuable mentor to younger players. In describing Patrick Williams’ work ethic and desire to learn in 2019-20, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton also described Wilkes’ contribution.
“After practice, many times I would see him and Wyatt Wilkes, walking through all the positions on the court,” Hamilton said.
That’s the kind of selfless mentality, as well as the son of a coach, who is willing to take time with a freshman to help him learn. And now Wilkes is a redshirt junior and can again help in the development of FSU’s new guards: Scottie Barnes and Sardaar Calhoun. While the national and ACC media are again focusing on who isn’t back this season, Wilkes has seen an early look in practices at the potential of the group as well as the newcomers.
“I think we’re going to be really good,” Wilkes said. “Watching the program for a while you see what good is and what good can be. Our camaraderie, our talent level, our hunger to win is there. Those are the building blocks of great teams. I think we have those.”
Osborne’s comfort at FSU
Malik Osborne had a redshirt season at FSU following his transfer from Rice. But even though he was able to practice, it wasn’t the same as playing. The 6-9 Osborne got that chance in a variety of roles, from power forward to center and averaged 6 points and 4.9 rebounds.
“Definitely have a better understanding,” Osborne said. “Compared to my first year, I came a long way. I will be the first to say that. I’m very comfortable with the offense right now. It’s definitely increased confidence level and comfort level. That has helped me be a better leader.”
Osborne logged plenty of minutes, maxing out at 31 in the ACC season, but often playing between 20-26 minutes. He is an aggressive rebounder, good defender and also can knock down mid-range jumpers as well as 3-pointers. It may not be realistic to see him accumulate double-doubles, but it’s not a stretch to see his role expanded in 2020-21.
“Natural maturation,” FSU assistant coach Stan Jones said. “Coming back off a year of experience. He understands the system even better. He understands his role better.”
A different start to season
College basketball teams won’t play an exhibition (or two) to warm up for the season. Instead the games will begin across the country on Nov. 25, and the FSU men will tip off on Nov. 27 with Gardner Webb and North Florida on Dec. 2 before jumping right in with Indiana and Florida. This presents new challenges for coaches.
“Sometimes you may get better work out of scrimmaging yourselves than playing against the exhibition Division II or Division III teams that we would play,” Jones said. “We’ve added a couple more where it’s just intrasquad scrimmage stuff. We’re going to do simulated game days.”
As part of those simulated game days, Jones said FSU would schedule the hours ahead and help get newcomers in the right mindset by dong a walk through, pregame meal, warm-up, short scouting report and then an intrasquad scrimmage.
The hype machine has ramped up for freshman Scottie Barnes, who has already been named to the preseason All-ACC first team. Barnes may not even start as it’s worth reminding that Hamilton doesn’t often start freshmen — Williams did not start in 2019-20, as one example.
“Scottie is being recognized for what he did in high school,” Hamilton said. “I think he has potential to be as good as anybody we’ve had at Florida State. … We have to keep the preseason notoriety in proper perspective. No question that he’s a premier player. I feel like you guys are going to enjoy watching him. But it’s our job as coaches to keep things in what we think are a realistic approach. Let’s tune all of that out.”
FSU will open against Gardner Webb on Nov. 27 at 3 p.m., with the matchup against North Florida on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. TV networks have not been settled and no other game times are available yet. FSU’s complete schedule can be found here.