Young Guns

Florida State center <b> Alexander Johnson</b> rubs his left ankle and slowly exhales. Johnson admits he's not playing to his full potential yet, but it's not because he isn't trying. No sir. Johnson helps anchor the Seminoles' prized recruiting class, one that contributed 31 points in FSU's easy 81-67 win over Georgetown (Ky.) College Monday night at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.

Johnson, a 6-10, 250-pounder from Albany, Ga., had 13 points and five boards in 18 minutes. Johnson is strong and physical, not a bit bashful when it comes making his presence known inside the paint. He made 5-of-6 field goals off a variety of post moves.

Off the court, he smiles easily and is extremely personable.

"I feel like we are coming together as a team," Johnson said. "I am just trying to rebound more and play my role for the team. Just trying to get everybody to play together."

FSU (2-0) made easy work of Georgetown (5-1), a perennial NAIA final four contender, opening up a 32-point advantage at 68-36 with 10:15 to play.

Guard Tim Pickett led five FSU double-figure scorers with 14 points. Johnson added 13 points and fellow freshman Von Wafer, Anthony Richardson and Todd Galloway each added 10.

Johnson continues to round into shape following summer surgery on both of his ankles. The biggest obstacles, he says, have been his conditioning and learning coach Leonard Hamilton's help defense. Georgetown missed its first 13 shots and shot 35.8 percent (24-for-67) for the game.

"(I am) trying to get in shape," Johnson said and smiled.

"The better shape, the transition will be better. You have to learn more (at FSU). Back in high school… now you have to learn all kind of plays. Usually, our defense gets me. You have to play up the line and all that stuff. I usually played behind my man (in high school).

"That kind of confuses me -- it's more like a football team on defense (smiling). Everybody has to work together -- like a free safety on the weak (side). It's like a football defense. We just have to get it together."

Despite ankle soreness, Johnson is making progress and probably is pressing senior starter Mike Mathews, who had just two points and three boards in 13 minutes. Johnson's performance is even more remarkable due to the fact he won't wear his contact lenses during games due to discomfort -- he should be wearing them fulltime.

"(I am) kind of sore," Johnson said of both surgically repaired ankles.

"I am trying to get in shape basically and get familiar with my teammates. I am new so I am trying to get comfortable with everybody on the team. I can't jump like I want to but it's coming along."

Wafer, meanwhile, treated fans with his smooth touch and playmaking ability in his debut -- the McDonald's All-American sat out the Seminoles' opener with a sore knee.

Like Johnson, the personable Wafer admits he has plenty to learn.

"The biggest adjustment is the speed of the game. The speed of the game is at a much faster pace (when compared to high school)," Wafer said.

Johnson, Wafer, Al Thornton and Diego Romero represent the nation's top recruiting class.

Thornton also came off the bench and did some good things, hitting 3-of-4 from the field with three boards and two blocks. Romero, meanwhile, has not played as of yet due to an eligibility issue. Hamilton is hopeful that issue is resolved soon. Romero has missed two exhibitions and the Seminoles' first two regular-season games.

FSU, which plays a school-record 17 home games, returns to the Civc Center Wednesday night at 7 against Nicholis State.

"Instant offense -- all three of us as freshmen coming in, I think we can put up a lot of points in a hurry," Wafer said.

"Still, it's not easy. You have to have your mind right when you get ready to come into battle when you come to play for Leonard Hamilton. But I feel comfortable, though I don't think I am anywhere near what I am going to be. We all need to keep working hard."


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