Leonard Hamilton was asked if retirement ever crossed his mind.
The Florida State coach could only laugh.
“You know what? Absolutely not,” Hamilton said on Monday’s ACC teleconference. “I think I’m going to be here for a while.”
Hamilton has no reason to step aside. He is 71 – and could pass for 61 (or younger). The coach is enjoying Florida State’s run – this year and for the past few seasons.
No. 8 FSU is off to a 21-4 start and with 11 ACC wins is among the class of the league, along with Duke and Louisville. The Seminoles also have won all of their ACC home games in 2019-20, as well as their last 20 games at the Donald L. Tucker Center, going into Tuesday night’s home game against Pittsburgh at 8 p.m (ACC Network).
Hamilton isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Nor should he. FSU has also landed one of the nation’s top 2020 prospects in Scottie Barnes, who is a McDonald’s All-American. The Seminoles are also stockpiling talent in future classes and have become a destination for four-and five-star prospects the past few years – Malik Beasley, Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac, M.J. Walker and Patrick Williams have all chosen FSU.
His contract is up in a few months, but athletics director David Coburn told the Osceola in January that Hamilton is “here for as long as he wants to be here.” An extension is expected to be signed in the coming months that could keep Hamilton in Tallahassee until he indeed chooses to retire – or until he signs another extension.
“I enjoy what I do,” Hamilton said. “I enjoy working with young people. I’ve been fortunate enough to have good health. I enjoy coming to work each and every day.”
Work has been fun lately, too. FSU has been to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and a fourth is a formality this March (FSU was projected as a No. 3 seed in the early peek by the NCAA Selection Committee a few weeks back). The Seminoles’ coaching staff has taken a roster that lost two NBA draft picks – Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann – as well as four seniors and delivered another season with 20-plus wins and 10-plus ACC victories.
On Tuesday, FSU looks to avenge its season-opening 63-61 loss at Pittsburgh. The Seminoles faced early foul trouble against the Panthers, who drove to the rim at will and made their free-throw attempts – Pitt made 22 of 31 while FSU made 13 of 15.
For FSU, it was new territory: a season opener against an ACC team and one that was on the road.
“I had six new guys and that was a great experience,” Hamilton said. “… They set the tone for the way we had to play at the beginning of the year.”
Pittsburgh at No. 8 FSU (21-4, 11-3 ACC)
Time/TV: Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ACC Network.
FSU potential starters: 6-foot-6 G Devin Vassell (13.4 ppg., 5.3 rpg.), 6-5 G Trent Forrest (11.6 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 4.2 assists), 6-5 G M.J. Walker (10.7 ppg.), 6-9 F Malik Osborne (6.0 ppg., 4.7 rpg.), 6-8 F RaiQuan Gray (6.1 ppg., 3.8 rpg.).
FSU reserves: 6-6 G Anthony Polite (6.0 ppg., 2.9 rpg.), 6-8 F Patrick Williams (8.9 ppg., 3.7 rpg.), 7-foot C Dominik Olejniczak (3.5 ppg., 2.3 rpg.), 7-foot-1 Balsa Koprivica (5.0 ppg., 2.5 rpg.), 6-6 F Wyatt Wilkes (3.9 ppg.).
Pittsburgh potential starters: 6-4 G Trey McGowens (12.5 ppg.), 6-6 G/F Justin Champagnie (12.5 ppg.), 6-3 G Xavier Johnson (11.8 ppg.), 6-2 G Ryan Murphy (9.2 ppg.), 6-6 G/F Au’Diese Toney (8.8 ppg.).
No new news on Vassell: Hamilton again declined to address if starting guard Devin Vassell would play in Tuesday’s game. Vassell did not play on Saturday against Syracuse by coach’s decision.