January 28, 2004

Habel commits to FSU

Jerome Habel told his uncle and the Florida State coaches that he "wanted to say it like a man, face to face."

And so Habel, the No. 51 player in the country by RivalsHoops.com, wasted little time in telling FSU coach Leonard Hamilton that he wants to be a Seminole.

"He already had it in his mind that he wanted to commit," said Habel's uncle and mentor, Jerome Vinson. "But he wanted to do it in person."

Vinson said Habel "absolutely loved" his visit to Tallahassee, which was topped by FSU's 75-70 victory over No. 10 Wake Forest on Sunday.

"He didn't want to leave," Vinson said. "No. 1, he loved the guys on the team and how they made him feel just like family. You could tell that he fit right in with the group of guys on the team. He felt so comfortable. He said he loved the guys -- loved Diego, A.J., Von. He actually knows Von from playing. He loved Coach Hamilton, Coach (Tony) Sheals, Coach (Stan) Jones -- all the coaches.

"He loved everything about it. He loved that the weather was so great. He loves being able to walk around in shorts.

"Florida State just felt like family."

And that Florida State family is about to get a serious infusion of talent this fall.

Habel will be the third signee to what is another strong recruiting class for Hamilton and his staff. A 6-foot-9 center, Habel joins guards Isaiah Swann (No. 25 player in the country) and Jason Rich (No. 28 player in the country) in Hamilton's third signing class.

As a senior at D.C.'s Walt Whitman High, Habel earned first-team All-Metro honors by the Washington Post. He had six triple-doubles that season and averaged 20.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 7.4 blocks for the 18-5 Vikings.

Vinson said Swann's signing earlier in the fall opened Habel's eyes.

"He knew about Florida State basketball," Vinson said. "He knew Von Wafer is there and he knew Isaiah Swann signed there. When Isaiah signed, the wheels started clicking for Jerome."

Habel enrolled this fall at Marriott Hospitality Public Charter Center, a prep school in the D.C. area. Habel needs to re-take the standardized tests to earn a qualifying score.

On the court, Habel has been has been described by one college coach who has seen him play as "relentless." Vinson said the coaches showed his nephew exactly how he could fit into FSU's system.

"Watching that Wake Forest game, afterwards Coach (Tony) Sheals and all the coaches showed us where Jerome could fit right in," Vinson said. "He's great shot blocker, a rebounder and a scorer. We watched that game and we could see how he would play a part on the team. It just seems like he's a perfect fit for Florida State."

More than anything else, Vinson said Hamilton and his staff stressed to Habel a "family atmosphere" at FSU.

"I think that's why they play so well together," Vinson said. "They are all so nice and it's a relaxing, family atmosphere. I think that will only help Jerome mature as a person. You have people that really care about him as a person, not just as a prep star.

"They made us feel so much at home. Everyone we met -- the teachers, the academic officials, the strength coach, even the gentleman who showed us the football stadium -- was so nice."




 

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