Booker Wants To Make a Bigger Impact
AMES, Iowa - Iowa State senior Anthony Booker was one of the first transfers to pledge his allegiance to Ames and new head coach Fred Hoiberg in the summer of 2010. He spent a year on one of the nation's most heralded scout teams in 2010-11 and was a key reserve on Iowa State's NCAA Tournament squad in 2011-12.
Now, Booker, who earned his degree in liberal arts and sciences from Iowa State this past summer, is ready to make a bigger impact for the Cyclones in his final go around.
The St. Louis, Mo., native was a top-50 national recruit in the final Class of 2008 prep rankings. Booker spent two seasons at Southern Illinois before switching to a Cardinal and Gold jersey.
Booker played in 32 games last year, averaging 3.5 points and 2.9 rebounds to help the Cyclones tie for third in the rugged Big 12 Conference. As one of the stronger players on the team, the 6-9 forward was asked to body the opposing teams top post players throughout the season. He also flashed his nice outside shooting touch, making 16-of-38 shots from 3-point range (42.1 pct.).
Booker recently sat down with cyclones.com to discuss his recent graduation and his excitement for the upcoming season.
How pumped are you for your final season as a Cyclone?
"I am really excited. I mean, this is my last chance to play with these guys and I've formed a pretty close bond with all of them the last three years I've been here. These guys are like my best friends so I am really excited to go out there and put it on the line."
How important is it for you to be a senior leader this season?
"It's me, (Chris) Babb, Korie (Lucious), Tyrus (McGee) and Will (Clyburn), and we try to do everything the right way because we want to set a tone. We want to show the younger players how they should lead. We just try to go hard in everything we do, and do everything 100 percent and set a tone and tradition for Iowa State basketball."
With the departure of All-American and NBA First-Rounder Royce White, your minutes in the post will likely increase. Do you feel you are ready for the challenge?
"I am really excited and I feel like I am ready. Playing behind a player like Royce was an important for my development. He is a great guy who taught me a lot of stuff. I think I am really ready to put it on the court and show Iowa State that I am more than a reserve."
What was the major difference you saw last season in your first year in the Big 12?
"Just knowing you are going to face the best players every night. In the Big 12, there just isn't a night off. Back to back, you've got Texas one night, then Kansas the next night, and so on. Every night you've got to have a high level of focus just to be able to compete. That was probably the biggest adjustment I had to make."
How good can the 2012-13 Cyclones be?
"I think we have a chance to be really good. We've got a lot of talent, but at the same time we've got a lot of unselfish guys, so we are just ready to compete and show everybody how talented we are. Everybody's looking for that next pass to score. We are always trying to get everybody involved and get everybody running up and down the court."
How proud are you for earning your degree in four years?
"It's a great feeling. I think it was a blessing for me to have a transfer season so I can play my final year with a degree already. Chris Babb got his too, so we can both focus much more attention on basketball. I can focus more on doing my role and making sure other people are doing their part."
What was your favorite memory of last season?
"Probably beating Kansas at home. Just to see our fans rush the court and the pure joy they felt for 30 minutes or hour after the game, that was probably the best feeling I've had since winning the state championship in high school."
You made your presence felt defensively last season. Is that something you have always taken pride in?
"I've always been a defensive guy. I've never been known for my offensive powers, but I take pride in trying to make the other guy not have a comfortable night. I just try to outwork my opponent and wear them down. For those 40 minutes we are playing, I want them to remember me. They might not remember me for scoring 20 or 30 points, but I want to make an impact on the other end."