Like I said in my first installment, this is a very compressed series of film breakdowns because Notre Dame’s basketball programs both open their season on Nov. 6. So we roll on to the next one in men’s basketball freshman forward Carey Booth, son of former Penn State standout and current Denver Nuggets General Manager Calvin Booth.
The 6-foot-10, 203-pound Carey originally committed to play at his dad’s alma mater under Micah Shrewsberry. Once Shrewsberry was hired as head coach in South Bend, Booth followed along to become the headliner of the Irish recruiting class. A four-star, top-100 prospect per 247Sports Composite, Booth should be an instant-impact player on the interior as the Notre Dame program begins its rebuild. Here’s what he brings to the table.
Long and Athletic
Those are two words that Irish basketball fans have longed to hear for years. They had the briefest of tastes of that combination with Blake Wesley in 2021-22, and then an even briefer taste with Ven-Allen Lubin last season. Booth provides those traits on both ends of the court.
He’s not a shot-blocking demon or a jump-out-of-the-gym dunker, but by recent Notre Dame athletic standards, he’s a revelation in the frontcourt. He still needs to get stronger to handle the beating he’ll take from college athletes, but he’s got tools that can’t be taught.
But as for the things that can be taught…
I probably shouldn’t use the word “surprisingly” considering that modern big men are more versatile than they’ve ever been before. Regardless, Booth displays quite a good shooting touch for someone his size.
He’s even got a little bit of an off-the-dribble jumpshot to work with as well.
And while Booth isn’t a conventional back-to-the-basket big man by any stretch, he can at least hit a fadeaway jumper from a post position.
All that’s to say that Booth isn’t a point or stretch forward. But his ball skills — while still needing development — could one day be enough to keep opposing defenders honest so they can’t back off of him to neutralize his athleticism.
Player Comp: Bobby Portis
Career stats: 15.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 52.6% FG, 36.5% 3P, 73.7% FT
Best season (2014-15): 17.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 53.6%, 46.7% 3P, 73.7% FT
In two years at Arkansas, Portis made a name as a versatile big man. At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, he used his combination of skill and strength to earn SEC Player of the Year honors in his sophomore year. Booth can pose that same dilemma to Notre Dame’s opponents.
Granted, Portis averaged just under one three-point attempt per game for his collegiate career, which is partially why his long-distance shooting numbers look so good. But that low usage from range is on par with how Booth should be used. He’s not a Nate Laszewski type of big man. To use Booth as a spot-up shooter would be a waste of his talents.
Booth would thrive in an up-tempo offense that lets him utilize his physical tools on fastbreaks. From a bigger picture perspective, that means Shrewsberry needs to do what former Irish head coach Mike Brey refused to do: play fast and go deep into his bench to keep everyone fresh.
The expectations for Notre Dame this season are rock bottom, which makes it ripe for experimentation with personnel and style. Which is to say that Booth needs to play and play a lot this season. We’ll have to wait until the season tips off to see just how far Booth needs to go from a strength standpoint. Maybe, like Wesley two years ago, Booth is just so good that he has to start.
On the other hand, transfer portal additions Kebba Njie and Tae Davis can fill the athlete role on Notre Dame’s roster, so Booth definitely doesn’t need to be a 35-minute-per-game player right away. But Booth’s combination of length, athleticism and skill is too valuable to keep off the court. And above all else, he needs to gain experience in a college system so that he can be a really good college player as a sophomore (assuming without good reason that he sticks in South Bend for a second season).
In either case, if Booth sticks around Notre Dame, I think the floor for his production is Juwan Durham (a relatively skilled and long big man). At the other end of the spectrum, he could be Portis, or, in Irish player terms, his ceiling is being an even longer Bonzie Colson. If everything falls into place — meaning he’s wearing an Irish uniform for three-to-four years — Booth could compete for ACC Player of the Year honors