THE THOUGHTS OF TOM IZZO’S DEATH ON THE RECRUITING TRAIL HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED.
THE HALL OF FAME COACH REELED IN A MASSIVE ONE…FIVE-STAR, 6-FOOT-10 FORWARD XAVIER BOOKER HAS COMMITTED TO MICHIGAN STATE.
/rips shot of Fireball
/takes deep exhale
/turns “all caps” off (before my editor yells at me)
Booker first announced the news via Instagram Live, with ESPN’s Paul Biancardi.
This one is huge. I don’t have to tell you that, but since it’s so much fun, we will tell you why anyway. Booker — who comes out of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, and helped lead the Fighting Irish to a 2021-2022 Indiana state championship — is the biggest recruit Izzo has brought in since Jaren Jackson Jr. (excluding Emoni Bates, who would later decommit from MSU).
He is tabbed as the No. 1 player in the entire 2023 class, according to Rivals. He also ranks as the No. 3 recruit in the nation according to 247Sports’ own rankings, and the No. 1-rated power forward in the class. Meanwhile, On3.com has Booker as the No. 6 overall player in the country.
However, he is currently ranked as the No. 58 player overall, No. 11 power forward and No. 3 player out of the state of Indiana, according to 247Sports Composite rankings, which provides an aggregate score based on the combined industry ratings of several different recruiting service websites.
His rating is easy to justify, too — he can pretty much do it all. He can shoot and handle the ball incredibly well for someone his size. His 7-foot-4 wingspan makes him a stout rim protector. His rebounding is elite. He can also do your dry-cleaning, groom your dog, wax your car and file your taxes all in one afternoon. He’s the total package.
Booker picked the Spartans over (insert just about any school you can think of here). His final 10 schools included Michigan, Oregon, Auburn, Purdue, Indiana, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Cincinnati and Ohio State. Duke and Kansas offered scholarships and tried to get in on his recruitment, too, but it was too little too late – and that’s what makes this recruitment a remarkable win on Izzo’s part.
See, Booker wasn’t always rated as a top-five player in the 2023 class. Izzo saw something in Booker early on when recruiting sites had him ranked somewhere around 90th in the nation and put a major time commitment in him. Booker took note of that, pointing out that long relationship in an interview with On3’s Joe Tipton:
“Obviously, I have a really good relationship with coach (Tom) Izzo, coach (Mark) Montgomery, and the rest of the staff,” Booker said. “They’ve been with me for about a year now. They were there for my worst games and my best games, but one thing they never stopped doing was recruiting me. They’ve always been by my side, and gave me feedback in a constructive criticism type of way. They always just stuck with me and checked in on me.”
As Booker’s recruitment boomed, other schools took notice. Well, now they can still take notice of Booker as he wears the Green and White in the 2023-2024 season (and hopefully more).
With Booker’s commitment, Michigan State has a great two-man 2023 class thus far, as the Spartans also hold a commitment from Jeremy Fears Jr. as well. The talented four-star point guard (who could very well be bumped to five-star in the next evaluation cycle) shined at the FIBA U17 World Cup, leading USA to a gold medal. He recently joined the Overtime Elite league as well.
MSU has plenty of scholarships available for the 2023 class, so it’ll be up to Izzo and company on how many more kids they want to add to this already-impressive class.