By JOE REEDY
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Leonard Hamilton is the winningest men’s basketball coach in Florida State history, and the university wants him to stick around a little longer.
Florida State and Hamilton have agreed on a two-year extension, giving him a chance to mesh the young talent on this year’s Seminoles squad with a highly rated recruiting class expected to be on campus next season.
"This extension positions him to continue attracting the kind of talent we need to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference and nationally," athletic director Stan Wilcox said in a statement.
Hamilton is in his 14th season at the school and has a 252-184 record. The new contract will run until the end of the 2018-19 season.
The 67-year old Hamilton had one year remaining on an extension signed in 2013. He is making $2.25 million this and next season after earning $2 million the first two years.
Hamilton said in a statement he was pleased with the faith that university President John Thrasher and Wilcox has shown in him.
"We believe we are on the verge of accomplishing something special here, and this will allow us an opportunity to do so," Hamilton added.
With freshmen Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon leading the way, the Seminoles showed flashes of potential for most of the season and won 10 of their first 12 games. But they have lost four straight going into Thursday’s game at No. 15 Duke and likely to miss the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season at 16-11, including 6-9 in the ACC.
Beasley, a 6-foot-5 guard who is averaging 16.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and the 6-7 Bacon (15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds) are Division I’s top freshman scoring duo and on pace to set the ACC record at 31.9 points per game. Georgia Tech’s Mark Price and John Salley combined to average 31.8 points in 1982-83.
The production of the freshman, along with other newcomers, has made the Seminoles a more perimeter team, and Hamilton has had to adjust his coaching style. He noted on Tuesday that he has played more zone defense than what he has in past seasons.
"I’m so pleased and excited about what the future will bring with them, but we have to go through this process," he said. "It can be very painful when you bust your butt and you end up losing but you have to learn from it. It’s easy to be all happy and excited when things are going well but how do you handle adversity? That’s where we are right now."
Next season’s class, which is ranked in the top 10 by most recruiting services, will be headed by power forward Jonathan Isaac.
"We have made a substantial investment in basketball here at FSU, and that commitment is visible to anyone who walks into the Tucker Center these days because construction is ongoing. With that kind of commitment come higher expectations," Thrasher said in a statement. "Leonard has taken our program to great heights during his time here, and we believe and expect that he will again."
Since arriving at FSU in 2002, Hamilton has been named ACC Coach of the Year twice (2009 and ’12) and led the school to its lone ACC title in 2012, which is also the last of four straight years they made the NCAA Tournament. Combined with prior stops at Oklahoma State and Miami, Hamilton’s career record is 452-394.
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