Sweet 16 foes Gonzaga, Florida State both influenced by international recruiting
LOS ANGELES – One is located in warm, muggy Tallahassee, Florida, the other in crisp, cool Spokane. One is a member of the football-driven Atlantic Coast Conference, the other in the faith-based and basketball-centric West Coast Conference. One lists its enrollment at 32,000, the other keeps its undergraduate population to well less than 10,000.
For all of the differences between the schools meeting in Thursday’s NCAA Tournament West Regional semifinal, there are a number of parallels one can draw between Florida State and Gonzaga. The basketball programs, that is.
There’s the success of the respective coaches, FSU’s Leonard Hamilton and GU’s Mark Few, both of whom have been at this longer than 20 years and can say they’re proud members of the exclusive “500 wins” club. Not that either would – yet another similarity.
The Seminoles coach and the Bulldogs coach are also like-minded when it comes to building a roster. The teams meeting in Thursday’s Sweet 16 have been heavily influenced by international recruiting efforts. Hamilton and Few cast a wide net when it comes to scouting talent and the respective rosters carry a combined nine players who were born outside of the U.S.
“We look at players all over the world,” Hamilton said. “… I try to look at all of them, whether it’s internationally or locally.”
In their Round of 32 victory over Xavier, the Seminoles started guard Braian Angola, a native of Villanueve, Casanare, in Colombia who came to FSU by way of North Idaho College, and Christ Koumadje, a native of N’Djamena, Chad. Other foreigners on the FSU roster include Ike Obiagu (Abuja, Nigeria), Anthony Polite (Lugano, Switzerland) and Mfiondu Kabenfele (Burlington, Ontario, Canada).
Gonzaga starts Killian Tillie, of Cagnes-ser-Mer, France, while Rui Hachimura, of Toyama, Japan, and Jacob Larsen, of Holte, Denmark, both come off the Bulldogs bench. Guard Joel Ayayi, a native of Bordeaux, France, is redshirting this season.