Florida State’s Bernard James: A veteran in more ways than one
In a conference populated by high-school all-stars, AAU all-stars and McDonald’s All Americans, Florida State’s 6-10 center Bernard James stands out with a basketball pedigree that’s unique in the ACC.
The 26-year-old James, who transferred to Florida State after completing his associate’s degree at Tallahassee Community College, honed his game as a member of the United States Armed Forces All-Star team during a six-year stint with the U.S. Air Force.
After dropping out of high school, James earned his GED and enlisted in the Air Force in May 2002. Over the next six years he was deployed overseas three times—most recently in October 2007, dispatched to southern Iraq as a member of the USAF Military Police force that supervised 22,000 detainees.
James didn’t start playing basketball in earnest until joining an intramural team at Beale Air Force Base in northern California. Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton first spotted him in 2005, when he competed in the U.S. Armed Forces All-Star tournament in Las Vegas.
As a transfer to the Seminoles this season, James earned his first start Dec. 25 against Baylor and has held the role since, shooting 69.4 percent from the field. He has also ably filled the shot-blocking role played by former Seminole Solomon Alabi, who batted away 71 shots last season.
Entering Wednesday’s game against Maryland at Comcast Center, James had blocked 59 shots and is averaging 8.2 points and 2.3 blocks per game.
It’s yet another must-win game for Maryland (17-10, 6-6), currently mired in a tie for sixth in the ACC standings. Florida State (19-7, 9-3) is solidly in third.
The Seminoles are without their star defensive player, junior forward Chris Singleton, sidelined by a broken foot suffered in the Feb. 12 victory at Virginia.
Still, Florida State boasts the nation’s best field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 35.7 percent from the field. The Seminoles also rank eighth in blocked shots (6.0 per game). Since handing top-ranked Duke its only ACC loss this season, 66-61, on Jan. 12, Florida State has won eight of its last 10, falling only at Clemson and at North Carolina.
| February 23, 2011; 9:32 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball | Tags: Bernard James, Florida State basketball, Maryland basketball, U.S. Air Force
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