FSU gearing up for the Jam with Ham

The Seminoles are ranked in all of the preseason polls coming off three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and the annual Jam with Ham kicks off Florida State's first official practice.

With college football season a month in and summer turning into fall, it can only mean one thing: College basketball is just around the corner.

FSU will turn that corner October 14th.

On that day, the annual Jam with Ham is set to take place at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The event, named for Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, serves as the first practice of the season for the 'Noles, who hope to ride the momentum of last year.

2010-11 was Florida State's most successful campaign since 1992-93, but a couple familiar names will be noticeably missing when fans are introduced to this season's installment of the 'Noles for the first time. Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen are in professional basketball environments now, and this event officially begins the daunting task of replacing the duo.

Although the two have moved on, garnet-and-gold supporters will recognize some familiar faces. Senior forward Bernard James had a couple dominating performances in last year's NCAA Tournament and will return as the team's leading rebounder. With Singleton now in the NBA, the team's top returning scorer is junior Michael Snaer. The 6-5 guard assumes a major responsibility in leading Hamilton's offense this season.

All together, FSU's roster will include six seniors and five juniors. However, there are a handful of newcomers that could provide a needed spark.

Attendees will be introduced to forward Antwan Space and guard Terry Whisnant. The two former high school stars might need to contribute significantly if Florida State is going to have another successful run.

Fans will also become familiar with transfer Jeff Peterson. The 6-1 guard is the first student-athlete to play basketball in the ACC, Big Ten and SEC. Peterson was formally a player at both Iowa and Arkansas. He spent the 2010-11 season as the Razorbacks' starting point guard and averaged 7.3 points per game.

In addition, there is an interactive element to the Jam with Ham experience. Fans will be treated to both a dunk and a three-point shooting contest. They will also be allowed to participate in a free-throw shooting competition, in which the winner will be awarded a prize.

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Attendees will also be eligible to win prizes through giveaways. Prizes include flat screen televisions, computers and even cash. There will be several other games throughout the night that give fans more opportunities to claim prizes.

The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. and kicks off one of the most anticipated basketball seasons in recent memory for Florida State. Following a year in which the team was one shot away from making an appearance in the Elite Eight, the Seminoles will begin the campaign ranked in every major pole.

The 'Noles will be featured on national television 17 times during the regular season, which is set to begin Halloween night.

Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.

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