March 23, 2006
With their Florida State basketball careers now concluded, Todd Galloway, Diego Romero and Andrew Wilson all started on very different paths to get to this point in their lives. Those differences have been the deciding factor in building the program into one of the best in the country.
"I think that's been the key to our team all year, the diversity of the senior class," said Wilson, the veteran of the group. "Me, Diego and Todd have been through so much. Some good times and some bad times and I think that's helping us right now as a team to win some of the close games we haven't won in the past."
The lessons learned that the three seniors are passing on; started six years ago with a freshman forward from Kennesaw, Ga. Wilson first strolled on campus in the fall of 2000 under then-FSU head coach Steve Robinson. The two-time, all-state selection had a great freshman year where he averaged 4.3 points and 1.7 rebounds while seeing action in all 30 games. He matched that on-court performance with a summer of consistent workouts and improvements to his overall game.
At the onset of his second sophomore year, a new head coach, current Seminole leader Leonard Hamilton, arrived in town bringing the challenge of working with a new staff and within a new system. Compound that with a season-ending knee injury in the season-opener against Florida and what looked like a promising career seemed to take a turn for the worse.
This is where Wilson's will and determination to be one of the top players on the team and in the league stepped in, motivating him to rehab though the early season injury. He spent every day getting stronger and working to regain the time he lost on the court. Set to open the 2002-03 season, Wilson was ready to return to the hardwood after a medical redshirt season.
As fate would have it, just five games into the season, Wilson tore a ligament in his wrist diving for a loose ball and ended his season for the second time in his short career.
"You can use basketball and apply it to life," said Wilson. "You're going to have situations where you're going to be down and situations where you're going to be up and it's a matter of how you're going to handle this situation."
Wilson handled the situation well, storming back to the court in 2004 as a top reserve, eventually moving into the starting lineup. This year, the 2006 Orange Bowl Classic MVP has come up big in and out of conference, including game winning plays against Nebraska, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech.
While one senior with Wilson's experience is enough for a team, another has been hand-picked to start the basketball foundation at a school where football is kind.
Enter Todd Galloway.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound guard, the lone four-year Seminole in the senior bunch, joined FSU the same year as Hamilton, as one of his first recruits. The speedy guard quickly made a lasting impression, proving he can and has run with some of the greatest guards in the league.
As a rookie, he averaged almost seven points per game, two rebounds and one steal as well as led the team in assists per game with 3.3.
As a sophomore, he extended his streak of playing in consecutive games to 62 and increased his understanding of Hamilton's system, enough to lead the floor and start all 31 games.
"(Being so far from home), I just had to be a lot more responsible," said Galloway. "My parents weren't here in Tallahassee with me so I had to take care of things myself. If something went wrong with my car or I had to go to a doctor's appointment, I had to do that myself. I just had to be more responsible and more independent. "
His success in one of the best leagues in the nation gave him the knowledge and experience to help some of the younger guards coming through Hamilton's system. Galloway sees the floor as well as provides a defensive threat in facing some of the best guards in the country.
"I've already told (the younger guys) that it goes by pretty fast so don't take anything for granted," continued Galloway. "Just have fun and make the most of it. Don't get too down and never get too high. You just got to stay level and take the ups and downs."
When Galloway speaks of highs and lows, Romero can readily relate as he had has his share of diversity in just three short seasons at FSU.
Averaging 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds at Lon Morris Junior College, the 6-10, 240-pound forward transferred to Florida State three years ago to provide a solid inside and outside presence and experience on the college level on a team full of youngsters.
Before he could step on the floor, Romero ended up redshirting his first year after the NCAA initially ruled him ineligible because of his amateur status prior to enrolling at FSU. The coaches and administration fought hard for an entire year for Romero who had his eligibility restored.
Today, the Comodoro, Rivadavia, Argentina native is playing out his final games in Garnet and Gold, averaging 17.1 minutes per game and coming off the bench in every contest this season.
"When I was sitting out, I learned how to keep my head up and try and help my teammates in practice knowing that I couldn't play," explained Romero. "That was really tough and I'm happy I got over that and am getting set to play my last few games. It made me appreciate everything that Florida State did for me in the three years I've been here. I know that coaches and people here rally care about their players."
Before departing, Romero has used his time wisely. Not only learning patience and trust, he has also shared his experiences with others. Sophomore Toney Douglas is going through a similar situation in that he has to watch his teammates from the sidelines due to transfer rules.
That relationship is exactly what head coach Leonard Hamilton wanted from his players.
"I think they all have demonstrated that they have a certain high level of maturity and they've been the settling factor," explained Hamilton "We have a nice mix of experienced players, little more experienced players and inexperienced players so having three seniors around who have been through wars so to speak has given us good leadership."
Those wars that he speaks of come both on and off the court. Whatever the challenges, Hamilton is positive they are not only building a winner but a program that generates great people.
"We spent so much time talking about so many facts of life as we go through this journey," continued Hamilton. "We spend so much time coaching their minds than we do their bodies. We try to touch on every phase of life that we feel they need knowledge and wisdom in as they go through the whole process. I'm not really sure we've left anything out we have those father-son type relationships because we definitely feel that we are working with young people during one of the more important periods of their lives when they are developing their ideas about how they are going to relate to the world beyond college and basketball."
Each has had something to contribute. This team is on the verge of great things and in hindsight, this senior class, more so than any over the last three years, has contributed to the foundation of the future of Florida State men's basketball.
By Lauren Williams FSU Sports Information