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The Early Read: Michael Snaer's Decision to Return for his Senior Season, Relationship with Coach Hamilton

One guy I legitimately thought would turn pro after last season was Michael Snaer.

The former McDonald's All-American turned heads nationally as he was awarded ACC Tournament MVP honors and the Seminoles topped UNC for their first conference title. 

His stock was high, NBA shows were beginning to mention him and I figured given the history at FSU with guys like Von Wafer, Alexander Johnson, Chris Singleton and Solomon Alabi, that Snaer was likely to make the jump.

Florida State fans will be happy he didn't.

After capturing the form many around Tallahassee had hoped to see from the 5-star guard when he arrived three years ago, Snaer made the decision to stick around for his senior year and try to accomplish something big at Florida State.

[Update: This morning Snaer was named a preseason first team All-American by Blue Ribbon Yearbook.]

I talked to Snaer on Monday, he was extremely expansive on a whole range of topics (some of which I covered that day) and two of the things that stuck out at me the most were his decision to return for his senior year and his relationship with, and faith in, his coaches.

"My biggest concern right now is the same as last year, is this team," said Snaer. "I didn't worry about deciding if I was going to go into the NBA until the last game was over [last season], and that's when I sat down and started thinking about it with Coach Ham and my parents.

"When I started thinking about if I'm going to declare for the draft or not that wasn't until after the season looking back on what type of season I had. But as far as this year it's going to be the same way, I won't look forward to any of that until when it's done. I know I have to go because I'm a senior so regardless I know there's no decision to make, I'm going regardless, the hardest part is over."

Snaer admits though, the decision last off-season about whether to come out or stick around another year was a very difficult one, and one he sought the counsel of Coach Hamilton on implicitly.

"It was an extremely hard decision for me and for my coaches helping me, mentors helping me, my mom helping me it was an extremely tough decision because it's a decision that's going to shape the rest of your life," admitted Snaer.

"For me it came down to so much, honestly we could sit here and talk all day about it and I wouldn't say the same thing twice. There are so many little things that went into making this decision that I just decided yeah at the time it sounded good and if you looked at first glance it's like 'you've gotta go, it's a great idea.'

"But coming back and you really look at it from a business standpoint, sitting down with Coach Ham him talking to me about it, he's the main guy in my corner, he knows this game, he's been doing it for so long he knows what to do, he knows how to get guys where they want to be and I trust him 100%."

Snaer's faith in his coaches, Hamilton in particular, is the kind of stuff that Florida State administators would probably like to bottle and sell to parents. Snaer is incredibly mature, but at the same time there's something to be said for Coach Hamilton's ability to inspire confidence and faith from the young men he coaches.

Hamilton is 64 years old, he started at Austin Peay back in 1971 but really cut his teeth at Kentucky as an assistant over 12 years in the 70's and 80's. His first head coaching gig was at Oklahoma State in 1986, he took over the University of Miami in 1990 and stayed for a decade. After a year as the coach of the Washington Wizards Hamilton arrived in Tallahassee in 2002.

He's built up programs in all three collegiate stops and has taken basketball at Florida State from novelty act to a legitimate interest, largely thanks to his ability to mentor young men like Snaer.

"Ever since I've been here I've done everything he's asked me to do so I know that he's going to look out for me," said Snaer. "That's just how it goes, that's for any player that comes here, any player that has dreams of going to the next level Coach Ham will look out for you 100%. I had some bumps in the road, I had some times I should have done a lot better than what I did but he stayed with me, stayed in my corner and now I'm back in a position to do what I want to do.

"Even if things don't go as planned in the beginning we've got a coaching staff like Coach Ham, Coach Stan Jones and Coach Williams and those guys have been there, they've done that, they know what they're doing."

Michael does admit he's a little biased though.

"For any player that wants to come here, in my opinion – well of course my opinion, this is my school and I think Florida State is the greatest – but I really do think that our coaching staff is one of the best."

Snaer says it starts with Hamilton the moment he begins recruiting you and grows into a relationship he'll carry with him for the rest of his life.

"It's like any relationship, it starts right when he starts recruiting you," said Snaer. "Of course you don't get as much interaction with him [at first] because you're in high school but from that first phone call, from the first time he sees you play it starts slow, it starts small but it starts.

"And from that point on it just builds and once you step foot on campus it just builds slowly and over time you look back on it and you just remember all the experiences you had, all the battles you've been in, all the times he's had to really jump on you, all the times he's given you praise, all the times he looked out for you and made sure you didn' get into trouble and kept your career going in the right way."

That confidence should pay dividends for Snaer this season, any pressure he may feel to establish himself in the eyes of NBA personnel is diminsihed by the fact he has coach Hamilton and the Florida State staff in his corner. 

You'll hear the term "lottery pick" tossed out in relation to Michael this year, sometimes that can cause players to sag under the pressure, but as a result of his maturity and faith in his coaches Snaer has the comforting realization that as long as he does his part, good things will happen for him.

"I'm not saying that [I'm a lottery pick], I'm saying that if I play the way I'm supposed to play, the way my coaches expect me to play I'll get drafted," said Snaer. "That's what it comes down to. At what pick? I don't know, I can't control that but I mean there's guys who are supposed to be lottery picks that end up slipping extremely far I've seen that happen plenty of times. It's too unpredictable, you never know what's going to happen."

When it all comes down to it though, right now the NBA is not a concern for Michael Snaer.

"If I play the way I'm supposed to play and do the things I'm supposed to then my coaching staff is going to take care of me 100 percent and they're going to push me and fight for me so there's no doubt in my mind that I will get drafted. I don't really worry about it at all, first round, second round, no matter where it's at and I know I'm the type of player that once I get in there I can bring a lot to a team, so I wouldn't worry about making a team or staying on the team, there's really not too much to worry about as far as the NBA goes, it's not like I'm a sophomore or a junior and I have to decide if I'm going to have to leave after this year,

"Florida State is kicking me out." 

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