Xavier Booker isn’t exactly on a summer break ahead of his senior season at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.
The four-star power forward prospect and No. 61 player in the 2023 class has been a fixture at camps, tournaments and events all over the country, and his schedule on the hardwood goes well beyond the average AAU hooper looking to sharpen their skills during the summertime.
Over the final week of May, Booker was in Houston trying out for a spot on the 18U Team USA roster. During the first week of June, the 6-foot-11 big man competed at the Pangos All-American camp in Las Vegas, where he was voted one of the event’s most valuable players. Booker got home at 3 a.m. on June 8 before playing in a local all-star game that same night, and got up early to arrive at Ohio State’s high school team camp the following afternoon.
Exhausted yet, anyone?
“It’s tiring at times, but I try to get the right rest and recovery and make sure I am taking care of my body. … At first, it was kind of hard to balance everything and get back with the coaches and also be with my family and my friends,” Booker said after a game at the Buckeyes’ camp on June 9. “I had school, too. But over time, I kind of learned how to do a better job of managing everything with getting back to the coaches and keeping track of my schoolwork and also making time for my friends and stuff.”
Booker is a recruit in demand, already holding top-75 status in the 247Sports composite rankings and having recently risen 35 spots on Rivals’ own list to claim a spot as the No. 2 overall prospect in the country.
There’s little doubt that the breakneck pace he’s been working at since the end of the school year has helped raise his recruiting profile, and although he may be tired, Booker isn’t complaining one bit.
“It feels great, obviously. It’s a blessing,” Booker said. “I worked for this, so I’m just going to continue to keep building and building, never stopping.”
Even while holding an offer from a blue-chip program like Duke, Booker still seems plenty interested in the Buckeyes, who were early on the Indiana native when they offered him back on June 15, 2021.
“It was Coach (Jake) Diebler, Coach (Chris) Holtmann. I came up for a visit, I had a great visit and they offered me there,” Booker said. “I got to see the campus and learn all about the school and everything. .. Obviously it’s a huge program nationally. They have a big stadium and a big platform, so definitely impressive.”
Booker said his relationship with the Buckeye coaching staff has only continued to evolve since the day he was offered.
“Me and Coach Diebler, Coach Holtmann, we have a strong relationship. I talk to them every day,” Booker said. “They reach out to me, check in on me, see how I’m feeling, see how my body’s feeling. Definitely a good relationship with them.”
Chris Holtmann talking with top-100 23 forward Xavier Booker after Indianapolis Cathedrals game against Pick Central. pic.twitter.com/h8rkDDEi9y— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) June 9, 2022
What do Holtmann and Diebler like most about Booker’s game? He said his potential to stretch the floor and play multiple positions as a near-7-footer has made him a can't-miss prospect for the Ohio State coaches.
“They like that I’m a versatile big and they compared me to E.J. Liddell,” Booker said. “Just the stuff E.J. Liddell did for Ohio State, they can see me doing the same thing.”
The Buckeye coaches paid close attention to Booker’s first game during camp, given that it was played on the main court in the Schottenstein Center and pitted Booker against another top target for Ohio State – Pickerington Central forward Devin Royal.
Booker guarded multiple positions in the contest but, often matched up one-on-one with Royal on both sides of the floor as both players had plenty of success. Ultimately though, Royal left the game with an ankle injury and Cathedral got the better of the local team.
Booker said he has a personal relationship with Royal that’s developed over the spring and summer.
“It’s obviously a great opportunity to be out here. Devin, he’s my guy, I played with him at Pangos camp this weekend. He’s a really talented player,” Booker said. “He can basically do everything, really. Score around the rim, shoot the ball, put the ball on the floor. So it’s definitely a tough matchup, but we got the dub.”
The busy schedule won’t ease up for Booker in the coming weeks, as the bright prospect began playing in more camps immediately after Ohio State’s own. In July, Booker will partake in an NBA Top 100 camp in Orlando, Florida.
Despite the rigors of his summer itinerary, Booker plans to hone his ballhandling skills and 3-point shooting in particular as he rounds out his game before his final season of high school hoops. Scheduling official visits has been more of a challenge with everything on his plate, but Booker said he plans to return to Ohio State sooner or later.
Xavier Booker speaking with several Buckeyes: Zed Key, Felix Okpara, Bruce Thornton, Tanner Holden and Brice Sensabaugh. pic.twitter.com/lM597QItMz— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) June 9, 2022
“It’s been hard trying to schedule visits, I’ve been busy. I’m definitely gonna get to it. I’m supposed to go to Ohio State for an official,” Booker said. “Trying to make it either this year, around this time in the summer or in the fall. I have one junior (visit) left and then five senior (visits).”
Booker said he doesn’t have a timeline for a commitment decision as of now, but has thought about narrowing his list of top schools on multiple occasions. It may be some time before Booker tips his hand, but it appears as though the Buckeyes are in the mix for the fast-rising talent out of Indianapolis.
“It changes because sometimes I might have a time where sometimes I want to narrow down my options with schools, but then it picks back up and it gets hard,” Booker said. “It’s definitely a blessing. It’s more than what I asked for. I’ve worked for this, so I just want to keep building and building.”