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How good is Ta’Niya Latson, Florida State’s freshman guard extraordinaire?

Put it this way: After the Connecticut Huskies held her to just 24 points, their acting head coach, Chris Dailey, couldn’t stop raving about the job her team did limiting Latson.

“We had our hands full, and I think we had to really work hard to even limit the number of shots that she did get,” Dailey told SLAM. “And then, her having fouls, that helped. But she’s tremendous, and she’s only a freshman, right?”

That’s correct. We re-learn that fact every single week, when the ACC announces its Freshman of the Week honors, and like clockwork, it is Latson. Each of the first six times the conference awarded that honor, it went to Latson, with a pair of Player of the Week honors thrown in for good measure.

It is the tremendous good fortune for Brooke Wyckoff, Florida State’s head coach, that Latson decided to stay in Tallahassee, even after she was recruited by longtime FSU legend Sue Semrau, who retired in March of 2022. Several other Florida State players transferred.

Not Latson. She’s up for any challenge.

“I remember that exact day, and I was so sad because Coach Sue was leaving,” Latson told us in mid-December at Mohegan Sun, a day before she showed UConn and a national television audience that it is impossible to stop her. 

“I know Coach Brooke had called me immediately and we were talking on the phone. I’d built a really strong connection with Coach Brooke, we [could] talk about anything. 

“But it was like, Ah, dang, everybody’s leaving, Coach Sue’s leaving, but I knew I had loyalty to her and I couldn’t see myself anywhere else…I feel like this is a position I can build something with. So, I’m just glad I stuck it out.”

So is Wyckoff, whose FSU team is 23-8 this season, despite a roster of just 10 players. And Latson is the easy answer why. Not only is she putting up massive numbers in volume—25 ppg through her first 14 college contests—she’s doing it as a constant, with at least 20 in 13 of those matchups, and 19 in the other.

She’s also, despite being the first name on the opposition scouting reports, scoring with unheard-of efficiency for a freshman—50-40-80 so far, exploiting matchups no matter who is guarding her. She’s 5-8, but her long arms and leaping ability make it impossible for smaller players to challenge her shot, while her speed and sense of the court allow her to get to her spots before longer players can bother her. Latson does, essentially, anything she wants on the court.

But her defense is, already, a differentiator. Connecticut raced out to a 23-point lead, but the Seminoles clamped down, ending the game on a 49-34 clip, with Latson grabbing 3 steals, something she’s done five times already this season. Her ability to read passing lanes and leap into them also gives her the chance to turn her defense into easy points at the other end.

“She’s a very intelligent player,” Wyckoff says. “One of the most intelligent players that I’ve ever coached. Just instinctively, knows the game and knows how to adjust…she understands as the game goes on, OK, this is what I have to do to adjust and get the opportunity to have the ball in my hands in a position to score, to make shots. And so, we’ve seen her do that, where she’s now reading the defense, which is attacking, understanding how to move around them to make shots. Today, it was turning up her defense and understanding that to get her going and getting the ball out in the open floor.”

“She’s got a natural three, and she has a pull-up, she can get to the rim, she can score at all three levels, which makes her very dangerous,” Dailey says. “She’s a nightmare matchup. And it takes a team to have to defend her.”

Wyckoff, her coach, summed it up even simpler: “I think the world saw the type of player we have on our hands here.”

On the men’s side, she’d be a one-and-done, with a WNBA talent evaluator telling me Latson would be a lottery pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft if she were eligible. But she’s not, so for the next three and a half years, college teams are going to need to figure out the impossible. 

We wish them luck. 

Photos via Getty Images.

The post Meet the Florida State Freshman Opponents are Already Calling a ‘Nightmare Matchup’: Ta’Niya Latson appeared first on SLAM.