Hoop It Up

Three nationally ranked players who form one of the top recruiting classes in school history have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball for first-year head coach Leonard Hamilton at Florida State University. "We are excited about each one of these players and what they will bring both individually and collectively to the program," Hamilton said of prep phenom Von Wafer and junior college standouts Diego Romero and Antonio Griffin.

By FSU Sports Information

Three nationally ranked players who form one of the top recruiting classes in school history have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball for first-year head coach Leonard Hamilton at Florida State University.

Vakeaton Wafer, Antonio Griffin and Diego Romero, who are all ranked among the top players in the nation at their positions, will begin playing for the Seminoles during the 2003-04 season. The combination of Wafer, Griffin and Romero has given Hamilton and the Seminoles a recruiting class ranked between fourth and 13th in the nation by various recruiting services.

"All three players are versatile, talented and will fit into our system well," said Hamilton. "They all possess outstanding athletic ability and will help us continue building our basketball program. We are excited about each one of these players and what they will bring both individually and collectively to the program."

Wafer, a 6-5, 210-pound native of Lisbon, La., averaged 32.0 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals as a junior at Pineview High School. He will play his senior season at Heritage-Christian High School in Cleveland, Tex. Wafer is the second- ranked shooting guard and 14th-ranked prep player overall by ESPN.com. He has also been ranked as the nation's No. 6 overall prospect by PrepStars.com and No. 8 overall player by Hoopscooponline.com.

Wafer saw his stock soar this past summer as he performed as one of the top players at the Nike All-American Camp in Indianapolis, Ind. He drew rave reviews as one of the top players at the invite-only camp where the nation's top high school players competed. Wafer was also one of the top players at the 2002 AAU Nationals and played for the USA South team at the 2002 U.S. Men's Youth Developmental Festival.

"Von is a very explosive player who can dribble, pass and shoot the basketball he has the whole package," said Heritage-Christian head coach Jerome Tang. "He is one of those players, with the correct tutelage, who has the ability to accomplish some very special things on the basketball court. Coach Hamilton is the right person to teach Von spiritually, emotionally and physically how to become not only a better person but also a better player. Von and his family have the utmost respect for Coach Hamilton and his staff. How could you not want to play for Coach Hamilton?"

Wafer selected Florida State over Indiana, Texas, Louisiana State and UNC Charlotte.

"Von is a special kind of athlete who has a great feel for scoring points," said Hamilton. "He can pass, shoot and dribble and do them all well. He is also able to utilize his size to his advantage which makes him even more dangerous."

Griffin, at 6-6, 195-pounds, is ranked as the sixth best junior college forward in the nation by Van Coleman of Future Stars. He averaged 12.0 points and 6.0 rebounds as a starter for Los Angeles Community College during the 2001 fall semester. He transferred to Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College where he is on track to finish his Associates Degree in May.

"Antonio is a very good athlete who really believes his game will improve tremendously under Coach Hamilton and his staff," said Scottsdale C.C. head coach Paul Eberhardt. "He is an athlete and a slasher who can get to the basket and whose jump shot is the best part of his game. He is very excited about coming to Florida State and having a big impact on the program."

Griffin chose Hamilton and the Seminoles over Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Fresno State, New Mexico and Louisiana Tech.

"Antonio is a very talented player with tremendous abilities to slash to the basket," said Hamilton. "He plays a great all- around game with shooting the ball being his best attribute. His quickness and speed will help him be very successful in our offensive and defensive philosophies."

Romero, 6-10 and 240 pounds, was named pre-season first-team All-American by Street and Smith's magazine entering the 2002-03 season. He averaged 14.0 points and seven rebounds in leading Lon Morris (Texas) Junior College to a 29-6 record in 2002. He helped Lon Morris advance to the quarterfinals of the 2002 National Junior College Tournament in 2002. It was Lon Morris' first trip to the national JUCO tournament for the first time since 1964. Romero is ranked as the nation's eighth best junior college forward prospect by Van Coleman of Future Stars.

The native of Argentina shot 60 percent from the floor and 38 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He also passes the ball well, is very mobile and runs the court well for a player of his size. Romero was a third team All-Region XIV selection as he ranked fifth in the region in field goal shooting percentage. He is currently a member of the Argentinean Junior National team.

"Diego is an extremely smart player who is going to be a great fit for Coach Hamilton and Florida State," said Lon Morris head coach Dale Dotson. "He has only been playing this game for four years so his upside from here is tremendous. Diego has tremendous potential and knows the game very well. He's very excited to have the chance to continue his basketball career under the staff at Florida State."

Romero decided on Florida State after also considering Indiana, Texas Tech and Kentucky.

"Diego is a complete player who plays well on both the inside and on the perimeter," said head Hamilton. "He has a tremendous understanding of the game and his greatest skill is the ability to make everybody around him better."


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