#53 / Center / Toledo Rockets
Whoa, a sophomore! Yes sir (or ma'am). Here's what Fran Fraschilla, a respected college basketball analyst for ESPN, had to say about Boothe:
Put Toledo's Nathan Boothe on your radar screen. If the 6-9 sophomore were an incoming freshman, he could play anywhere in the Big Ten.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) October 19, 2013
Watched Toledo's Toledo's 6-9 soph. Nathan Boothe work out this morning and was really impressed. Excellent strength, agility and touch!— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) October 17, 2013
Yeah, I'd say that's pretty high praise.
Boothe came to Toledo out of Gurnee, Illinois and led his high school team to a 31-4 record and a state championship game appearance. He didn't have any scholarship offers other than Toledo, but that didn't stop Tod Kowalcyzk from using the one precious scholarship he had in 2012 on Boothe. Turns out he made the right decision.
Here is what Kowalcyzk had to say when he signed Boothe (from Rivals):
"Nathan is the perfect fit for our program and will give us exactly what we need: a physical presence. He has great hands, a very good shooting touch, and understands how to play."
Kowalcyzk saw something in Boothe that others didn't and it paid dividends all of last season. He was only fifth on the team in scoring (8.3 points per game) but second on the team in rebounds (5.2). In just the second game of the season against B1G foe Minnesota, he showed he'd be a factor in the MAC putting up thirteen points and seven rebounds. He continued to show promise in late December/early January with six straight games of over five rebounds. Kowalcyzk was dead-on on evaluating Boothe's shooting; the freshman made a very impressive 46% of his field goals.
Boothe was awarded for his outstanding play by being named to the All-MAC Freshman team. However, he did not receive even one vote for the MAC Freshman of the Year Award. I'm guessing that may have motivated him some this offseason.
This season, Boothe looks to again be a solid contributor on one of the top teams in the conference. With the addition of Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon, Boothe won't be under too much pressure to put up a lot of points. Toledo is weak in the post after Boothe, so he'll have to play a lot more minutes than he is used to. He should be focused on grabbing more rebounds this year especially with the decreased scoring load. Boothe is a big matchup problem to some teams who are weak inside and is yet another weapon in Kowalcyzk's arsenal. Boothe doesn't need to worry about scoring that much, but if he produces the Rockets will be all that more dangerous.