After Ohio State camp appearance, Xavier Booker says he will take official visit to OSU

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

It’s not been for a lack of effort that Xavier Booker hasn’t come up with a list of top schools yet.

Believe him: Booker has tried. But now after a meteoric spring rise in the national recruiting picture that has vaulted him to No. 4 in the class of 2023, the Indianapolis Cathedral power forward keeps having more options being presented to him.

After playing Pickerington Central and squaring off with forward Devin Royal, also an Ohio State target in the class, Booker said he’s learned to balance life while juggling all-star games, camp appearances and high-level college recruiting. It’s a process, and Booker said he does not have a timeline for when he hopes to make a college decision.

Indianapolis Cathedral power forward Xavier Booker, a top-5 recruit in the 2023 class, speaks with Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann after playing at the Buckeyes' team camp June 9, 2022.

“It changes,” he said. “Sometimes I might have a time where I want to kind of narrow down my options and schools but then it just keeps picking up so it’s hard, but as of right now, no.”

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Cathedral Fighting Irish Xavier Booker (34) celebrates after making a shot during the IHSAA regionals boys basketball tournament game against the Ben Davis Giants, Saturday, March 12, 2022, at Southport Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

That Booker was even in Columbus was a credit to his love for the game. From June 5-7, Booker was one of 120 players invited to the Pangos All-American Camp in Las Vegas, where like Royal he was picked for the “Top 30 Cream of the Crop” game. The 6-10, 205-pound Booker was named most valuable player after averaging 17.5 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 62.0% from the floor and 55.6% from 3

He arrived back in Indianapolis on Wednesday around 3 a.m., he said, then participated in an all-star game in Indianapolis later that evening. Then it was another early wake-up call and a drive to Columbus for Ohio State’s first team camp since 2019.

“At first it was kind of hard balancing everything, trying to get back to all the coaches, my family, my friends, school in general,” Booker said. “Over time I kind of learned how to do a better job of managing everything, getting back to the coaches and checking my schoolwork and also making time for my friends.”

Cathedral's Xavier Booker is ranked No. 4 in the country by 247sports.

Booker entered the spring ranked No. 91 nationally according to 247Sports.com as of April 15. When the ratings refreshed May 26, Booker had climbed to No. 4 nationally. Since May, the likes of Duke, Kansas, Auburn, Texas and Oregon have offered.

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“It feels great,” Booker said of his burgeoning recruitment. “It’s a blessing I’ve worked for. It’s something I’ll continue to build and build on and I’ll never stop.

He has already taken official visits to Kansas State, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue but still has multiple others potentially in the pipeline. Prospects are allotted five official visits during both their junior and senior seasons, so Booker could potentially take six more visits before making a decision.

Indianapolis Cathedral High School junior Xavier Booker (34) attempts to score during the second half of an IHSAA Class 4A Boys’ Basketball Sectional Championship game, Saturday, March 5, 2022, at North Central High School. Cathedral won 63-47.

One of them will be to Ohio State.

“I’m supposed to go to Ohio State for an official,” he said. “Trying to make it either in the summer or the fall.”

The Buckeyes have been recruiting him for more than a year. Booker landed his offer from the Buckeyes on June 14, 2021 and since has taken multiple unofficial visits to the campus. He has primarily been recruited by Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann and assistant Jake Diebler.

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“Me and coach Diebler, coach Holtmann, we definitely have a strong relationship,” he said. “I try to talk to them every day. They reach out to me, check in with me, see how I’m feeling, see how my body’s feeling. It’s a real good relationship with them.”

Cathedral basketball player Xavier Booker, at home in Fishers, Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

Ohio State has a commitment from St. Marys (Ohio) Memorial center Austin Parks for the 2023 class, but the two are varied enough in their size and skill that the Buckeyes view the two as capable of sharing court time.

“They like that I’m a versatile big,” he said of the Ohio State coaching staff. “They compare me to E.J. Liddell. The stuff that he did for Ohio State, they can see me doing the same things.”

Life doesn’t slow down anytime soon for Booker. After Thursday’s appearance at Ohio State, Booker said his team was headed to Purdue Fort Wayne for another camp before he starts playing in a summer league that fields games Tuesdays and Thursdays. On June 27, Booker said he’ll be participating in the 2022 NBPA Top 100 Camp in Orlando that lasts until June 2.

Indianapolis Cathedral High School junior Xavier Booker (34) scores with a dunk during the second half of an IHSAA Class 4A Boys’ Basketball Sectional Championship game, Saturday, March 5, 2022, at North Central High School. Cathedral won 63-47.

Against Pickerington Central, Booker showed his skill set by finishing around the rim but also swishing 3-pointers from the top of the circle and the wing. His ball handling is a summer focus, he said. Following the game, which was watched by Holtmann and Diebler, Booker spent time talking with the Ohio State head coach as well as current Buckeyes Zed Key, Felix Okpara, Bruce Thornton, Brice Sensabaugh and Tanner Holden.

Whenever he does pick a school, Booker said he has an idea of what he’s looking for.

“Definitely just a school where I know I fit in every aspect,” he said. “Athletically, for one, making sure I have a good relationship with the coaches, I fit into the coaching style, the playing style. Academics, somewhere I know I have academic advisors looking out for me, making sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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