Ta’Niya Latson chose Florida State over the traditional women’s basketball powers. Now, she looks like a superstar in the making.
If you needed any proof of parity in women’s college basketball, look no further than Ta’Niya Latson. The top shooting guard in ESPN’s 2022 rankings, Latson had one of the greatest high school careers in recent memory. As a freshman, she started for Westlake High School, where she was a part of three straight state championships and a national title.
Still, Latson has admitted that she didn’t get truly serious about the game until her junior year. Up to that point, Latson had mostly gotten the better of her opponents with her athleticism and length.
The new focus helped Latson elevate her game and climb the rankings. She moved to Florida for her senior season, where she starred for American Heritage. Her stat line looks like something out of a video game: 27.2 points, 7.0 assists, 8,0 rebounds, 5.2 steals, and 2.0 blocks. Latson was named Florida Class 5A Player of the Year, Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Basketball, and a McDonald’s All-American. She ended up the top-ranked shooting guard in her class and number 14 in the ESPN Hoopgurlz rankings.
Latson turned down offers from a multitude of top-tier programs when she committed to Florida State. When coach Sue Semrau, who recruited Latson, retired in March 2022, she remained committed to the program, despite a handful of other players transferring. The decision has paid dividends for the program and Latson.
By choosing Florida State, Ta’Niya Latson bet on herself — and it worked.
Latson joined the Seminoles as one of the highest-ranked recruits in program history and immediately put her name in the record books. In FSU’s season opener, she scored 28 points, becoming the first freshman to lead the team in scoring in a season opener since 2010.
She followed the 28-point performance up with a 34-point game against Kent State, which was the highest scoring output by a freshman since 1981. Just two games later, Latson scored 32 points against Florida, becoming just the 10th Seminole with multiple 30-point games in a season. It took her only four games to get there.
Latson’s opening performances were enough for her to secure both the ACC Freshman and Player of the Week awards for the first two weeks of the season. She became the first player to ever sweep the weekly awards in consecutive weeks.
She didn’t stop there, though. Latson won the first eight Freshman of the Week awards of the season and secured a third sweep in the final week of the streak. During those weeks, she averaged 25.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1 block across 16 games. Led by Latson, Florida State crept closer and closer to a top 25 ranking.
In conference play, Latson’s scoring dropped a bit, but she still had multiple huge games. In FSU’s win over then-No. 11 NC State, she scored 31 points on an impressive 13-of-16 from the field.
Latson led FSU to a 12-6 conference record. She averaged 18.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.5 blocks in those 18 games. Along the way, she secured two more Freshman of the Week awards, breaking the previous record of nine. In FSU’s penultimate game against Wake Forest, Latson broke Diamond DeShields’ ACC freshman scoring record.
Latson finished with seven 30-point games, which accounted for over half of the ACC’s 13 such games. She also posted a streak of 14 consecutive 20-point games, the second longest ever in NCAA history, men’s or women’s.
Ta’Niya Latson had posted one of the greatest freshman seasons ever
Latson’s final averages were incredible, especially for a freshman. She finished with a line of 21.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game. She led the ACC in scoring and was 10th in the nation. She also led the conference in free throw attempts and was third in free throw percentage. Her efficiency stuck out across the board, too. Latson finished third in the conference in field goal attempts but was eighth in field goal percentage. Of the players in the top five in attempts, she shot five percentage points better than the second-most efficient player.
Latson has already racked up an impressive award resume, too. Along with the record 10 Freshman of the Week awards, she was named ACC Rookie of the Year and was named to both the All-ACC First Team and All-Freshman team. She was the first Seminole to win ACC Rookie of the Year, and the first to win a conference ROY since 1990, when FSU was in the Metro Conference.
Latson has been a star at every level, but has insisted on doing it her way. Her approach is vastly different from some other players of her caliber.
For one, she is fully committed to Florida State. In the era of NIL and the transfer portal, players are moving more often than ever before, but Latson re-upped on her commitment in an interview in January.
“You want to start your own legacy, you want to make a change in the community,” Latson said. “I really feel like we can…I plan on sticking out the rest of my three years here…I wanted to start my own legacy and be somewhere where we can really make a dynasty.”
Latson’s low-ego, team-first mindset should help FSU attract more top talents during her time in Tallahassee, too.
During her senior year of high school, Latson was compared to LeBron James for the way she elevated her teammates. That mindset has carried over to college. Latson, despite being the best player on her team, only attempted 15.9 shots per game this year, notably lower than other players of her caliber.
In the aforementioned interview, Latson also discussed how important getting her teammates involved is to her. “I just want to play the right way, and that’s always something that’s been in my game,” Latson said. “Like no matter how much I score, I still want to get my teammates involved … that’s going to win championships … I’ve just got to get my teammates involved, because that gives us all confidence.”
Ta’Niya Latson’s talent, goals, and mindset make her unique in today’s landscape
In a world that seems more and more self-centered every day, Latson’s commitment to making those around her better is a breath of fresh air. That mindset combined with her exceptional talent makes Latson one of the most unique players out there. She is the type of player any fan can get on board with.
The sky is truly the limit for Ta’Niya Latson. At the pace she’s going, she will go down as one of the best college basketball players ever. Some are already labeling her as the greatest FSU player ever. If she succeeds in turning Florida State into a dynasty, her legacy will be amplified even further.