On Wednesday, the NCAA granted Florida State center Kiel Turpin a sixth year of eligibility after missing the entire 2013-14 season with a leg injury. Turpin will return for his sixth collegiate season and his fourth at Florida State after transferring from a junior college in Illinois.
With Turpin’s return, the Seminoles will now have three 7-footers on the inside. While that may sound like a big advantage for FSU in the upcoming season, minutes at the center position may become very scarce.
Battling Turpin for minutes will be juniors Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo. Both foreign born, Bojanovsky and Ojo are each project players yet to reach their full potentials. With Turpin’s return, it will be interesting to see which direction head coach Leonard Hamilton decides to go during the 2014-15 season.
Bojanovsky and Ojo each have more potential, but Turpin may be Florida State’s most polished player at the position. At 7’3″, Bojanovsky is far more skilled offensively, but his lean figure keeps him from being a force on the block while allowing opposing players to move him with relative ease.
Bojanovsky averaged nearly six points and four rebounds per contest last season and should be the team’s starting center early on next season. Though a finesse player, Bojanovsky has shown very good offensive moves and has good range for a man his size. While his slight frame sometimes made him a liability on the defensive end, the Slovakia native led the team with nearly two blocks-per-game last season.
At 7’1″ and 290 pounds with virtually no body fat, Ojo can be an enforcer inside on the defensive end of the floor, but has shown virtually no offensive game. Ojo averaged just 2.5 points in 11 minutes played per game last season.
As a junior during the 2012-13 season, Turpin averaged 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds-per-game while shooting 51 percent from the field. Turpin may be Florida State’s best offensive option on the low block, but whether or not he garners much playing time remains to be seen. Minutes for Turpin could hinder the development of the two younger centers.
Despite playing multiple 7-footers in each of the past two seasons, rebounding has not been a strong suit for Florida State and Turpin may not significantly help the matter. With a little help fundamentally, the Nigerian-born Ojo has the size and strength to become one of the premier rebounders in the ACC.
In years past, Hamilton has not been hesitant to play three bigs with regularity. During Florida State’s run to the Sweet 16 in 2011 and an ACC title in 2012, centers Bernard James, Xavier Gibson and Jon Kreft all saw significant action. In this case however, adding another big man to the mix may take athleticism out of the lineup which may be the area where the Seminoles are strongest next season.
It won’t be known whether or not Turpin can help Florida State for several months and while his return could be of little consequence, it does give FSU another option in the middle. If nothing else, Turpin’s added year of eligibility could serve as motivation for Bojanovsky and Ojo to significantly improve and help the Seminoles get back to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year hiatus.