Heat Q&A: Former Florida State star Okaro White has bragging rights in Miami

 

 

Miami's Okaro White celebrates his three point shot with less than a minute to play that put the Heat up for good. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Miami’s Okaro White celebrates his three point shot with less than a minute to play that put the Heat up for good. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – Heat forward Okaro White spent four years at Florida State. While he was there the Seminoles won the school’s first ACC basketball title (2012) and the football team won the national championship the next season.

Now, the Seminoles are back on top of the ACC in basketball and White, called up last week from Sioux Falls of the D-League and on a 10-day contract, is enjoying watching the sixth-ranked Seminoles from a city where he is finding a lot of support for his school, despite one of its top rivals being right down the road.

We spoke to White, who had a solid  performance (10 pts, 7 rebs, 4 blocks) in Miami’s impressive comeback at the Nets on Wednesday, for our latest Q&A installment.

Q: Can we start calling Florida State a basketball school, too?

OW: “It’s always going to be a football school but basketball over the last eight or so years. … my first two years we were good, Sweet 16 my freshman year and we were a 3 seed in the tournament my sophomore year after winning the ACC championship. The four years in between weren’t good but those young guys got a year under their best last year and came back this year and they’re playing well.”

    Q: So you could see this coming?

OW: “Yeah, you could see it coming. I always call coach (Leonard Hamilton) an old man but one thing he knows how to do is recruit and this is from way before I got there. When you got such a good recruiter who is able to bring players in they are going to find a way eventually to put it all together.”

    Q: Better coach: Leonard Hamilton or Mike Krzyzewski?

OW: “I got to go with my guy, not taking nothing away from Coach K, one of the best coaches ever, but I got to go with my guy.”

    Q: Florida State has bragging rights in the state for basketball and football and you’re playing in Miami, the home of one of its biggest rivals. How cool is that for you?

OW: “It’s cool. But down here in Miami there is such a big Florida State following. Even though its Miami there’re a lot of Seminoles down here. So I don’t really feel it as much, I don’t feel like it’s a Hurricanes town but I feel like there are a lot of fellow Seminoles here with me.”

    Q: Have FSU fans reached out to you here?

OW: “Oh, yeah, plenty. Even when we would come down here to play Miami we would always have a big Seminole event. There has always been a big following. I got a lot of friends from Miami who went to school at Florida State.”

    Q: Did you go to many football games when you were at Florida State?

OW: “I went to every one. We tailgated at football games with recruits.”

    Q: What was that experience like?

OW: “Every home game no matter who they played that was a big part of my college experience. Honestly, when I talk to other guys about college experiences I can’t see another guy who went to another school who had as much fan as me in college.”

White then turns to Willie Reed: “I’m sure. … what was it St. Louis Tech where you went? (Reed went to St. Louis University). I’m sure he didn’t have as much fun as I did in college and the football games were a big part of my experience. But it wasn’t even just football, we have so much diversity and you have another school right down the road in Florida A&M.”

    Q: What was your biggest win at Florida State?

Willie Reed chimes in: “Florida Tech.”

OW: “We beat Carolina by 33 (90-57) on College GameDay (in 2011-12) but nothing is going to compare to the school’s first ACC championship when we beat Carolina (85-82) that same year.”

    Q: You played most of this season in Sioux Falls. Is Sioux Falls more like Tallahassee or Miami?

OW: “Definitely more on the Tallahassee side but Tallahassee is way more fun. Sioux Falls is a great town, take nothing away from it, it’s just really cold.”

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