It’s going to be tough for the Irish to beat out teams like Michigan State and Gonzaga for the in-state blue-chipper, but the Irish have positioned themselves to make a run at the 5-star big man
After a rough few years in the desert, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s hoops program has done a much better job of late when it comes to recruiting, as Mike Brey and his staff assembled and signed a very promising class of 2022 and now, as of Monday evening, they’ve made the top 10 for a guy who would be Brey’s highest rated recruit of the online recruiting rankings era, if he were to end up signing with the Irish.
Xavier Booker, a 6’10” power forward out of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, has narrowed his list to 10 schools: ND, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon, and Cincinnati.
He holds additional offers from the likes of Duke, Kansas, Louisville, Illinois, Iowa, Clemson, LSU, Memphis, Miami, Missouri, Seton Hall, Texas, USC, Xavier, and others, but announced the above 10 as his finalists on Monday evening.
Booker has always been considered a top-100 recruit, but has soared up the rankings of late thanks to some recent AAU performances, as well as a strong junior season where he led Cathedral to a 4A state championship — its first since 1998.
247sports.com now has him ranked 3rd in their player rankings for the 2023 class, and Rivals.com has him ranked 2nd. On3.com has him 7th overall. ESPN.com still has him rated much lower, though, causing his On3 consensus ranking to be 19th overall and his 247sports composite ranking to be 58th.
No matter which service is right, though, it’s clear Booker is a fantastic prospect, considering not only his size but also his athleticism, ball handling, and ability to get up and down the floor, shoot from outside, elevate at the rim, etc.
With Indianapolis so close to South Bend and his high school’s close affiliation with Notre Dame (Cathedral is also the Fighting Irish and was run by the Brothers of Holy Cross until it became independent in the late 1970s — Holy Cross has since returned to the high school, in 2011), Booker has made multiple visits to Notre Dame already, including an official visit last month.
He’s also officially visited Indiana, Purdue, and Michigan State, and has an official scheduled to visit Ohio State on Labor Day Weekend (i.e. the season opener between ND and OSU). He’s also unofficially visited OSU in the past, along with Cincinnati.
Joe Tipton at On3.com published an article Monday evening with Booker providing short quotes on each of his finalists, explaining why they’re in his top 10.
About the Irish, he cited his relationships with Mike Brey and Anthony Solomon, mentioned that his official visit was great, and that he likes how Brey’s program uses bigs, allowing them to bring the ball up the floor, encouraging them to do things besides just rebounding in the paint, etc.
Had a great Official visit at Norte Dame. Thanks to Coach Brey, Coach Solomon, and the rest of the coaching staff for a great visit.☘️ pic.twitter.com/OcxgdGHhZi
— Xavier Booker (@RealXman23) June 25, 2022
It’s certainly an encouraging quote and fun to see ND make this cut for such a highly-rated prospect, but there’s a long way to go before Irish fans should get too excited here. We all remember in recent years how Brey has taken swings at big fish and come close — but ultimately failed — with guys like Isaiah Stewart, Thon Maker, Cole Anthony, etc.
Hopefully, this one will be different, considering Booker has only recently become a 5-star, the Irish have been recruiting him from the start, he lives in Indy, and he might notice how guys like J.J. Starling and Ven-Allen Lubin signing in the class before him could lead to a really strong program for him to be a part of and/or take to the next level.
But with heavy hitters like Michigan State (currently considered the favorite for him), Gonzaga, Auburn, and even Purdue in the mix, it’s going to be a tough battle for the ND staff, for sure.
As everything develops, we’ll be sure to keep you posted — for now, let’s enjoy the fact that Brey and the boys have been on this in-state stud from the beginning and have ND in as good of a position as possible to land elite recruits in back-to-back classes (really in back-to-back-to-back classes, considering Blake Wesley ended up being much more elite and college-ready than expected). That’s fun to see, folks.