“Angola, a deep three… is good! His second triple of the half.” Brian Anderson wasn’t quite ready to get out of his seat, but the TNT commentator was certainly surprised at the hot start from Florida State in their round of 32 game against top-seeded Xavier.
Braian Angola, a former star player at NIC, had just hit his second straight three pointer to put his nine-seeded ‘Noles up 8-3 over the Musketeers. He would go on to pace the team in points, rebounds, and assists, helping his team to the upset of the Big East regular-season champs.
Angola’s under-the-radar play has helped push the Seminoles to their first Sweet 16 since 2011, and now a date with the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Thursday.
While he did initially receive calls from the Zags when his two years were up at NIC, their backlog in the backcourt made it a tough fit for the 6’6” guard. He chose to enroll at Florida State in order to be closer to his home country of Colombia.
For Angola, a huge driver for his success is his mom. He earned headlines on ESPN and Bleacher Report when his mother flew in from Colombia to surprise him on Florida State’s Senior Night. Angola’s emotional reaction showed his connection to his mother, and it caught the eye of the nation.
“It was motivation for myself to have my mom watch me play. I was very proud,” said Angola, who ended up scoring 21 points that night.
Angola’s father died from a heart attack only two weeks before he was set to move to Coeur d’Alene and begin college.
“His family kind of stepped in and he’s a really smart kid. It was more them convincing him he needed to get his education and do what he can to take care of his mom and sisters,” said head coach Corey Symons.
As for Symons, who celebrated his first NWAC Championship the same day that the Seminoles upset Xavier, his admiration for Angola is unlike any other.
“Hands down, probably the best player I’ve ever coached.”
Angola and his teammates face a tough road the rest of the way, but with every game looming as potentially the last one for the seniors, there is no doubt that they will put their best feet forward. They will look to keep dancing when they face off against Gonzaga on Thursday at 7 p.m.