Tak­ing over the Knights

Wal­dorf res­i­dent Booth hired as SMR head boys hoops coach

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com

Wal­ter Booth has coached at the high school, club and col­le­giate lev­els and now he’ll step be­hind the bench at St. Mary’s Ryken High School af­ter re­cently be­ing named the school’s var­sity head boys basketball coach.

Booth re­places for­mer head coach Pa­trick Be­han, who stepped down to take the same po­si­tion at St. John’s Col­lege High School in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Both teams play in the Wash­ing­ton Catholic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence.

“I’m ex­tremely ex­cited,” said the 32-year-old Wal­dorf res­i­dent as he sat in the school’s bleach­ers late Mon­day morn­ing. “I know what this pro­gram’s done in the past and they’ve been very suc­cess­ful un­der [for­mer] coach [Dave] Tall­man and coach Be­han. They’ve helped a lot of kids play at var­i­ous lev­els and I’m just ex­cited to try and take this pro­gram to the next level. It def­i­nitely felt like a per­fect fit. I’ve al­ways wanted to have my own high school pro­gram and to be able to play in the WCAC against good com­pe­ti­tion like DeMatha and Gon­zaga was an op­por­tu­nity I couldn’t pass up.”

“We are very pleased to have coach Booth join the St. Mary’s Ryken com­mu­nity and lead the boys basketball pro­gram,” SMR ath­letic di­rec­tor B.J. Pum­roy said Thursday in a school news re­lease an­nounc­ing Booth’s hir­ing. “His ex­pe­ri­ence at the col­le­giate, high school and club lev­els will help keep our Knights as top com­peti­tors for the WCAC ti­tle.”

Last year, the Knights won nine of their first 10 games to start the sea­son and fin­ished 16-14 over­all (a sixth-place 9-9 in the WCAC). They were upended up St. John’s in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the WCAC tour­na­ment and the sea­son ended with a loss to Capi­tol Chris­tian of Prince George’s County in the quar­ter­fi­nal round of the Mar yland In­de­pen­dent schools state tour­na­ment.

The Knights lose three se­niors in Raidell Du pree, Dono­van Ste­ward and Chris Greene, but will re­turn four ju­niors, in­clud­ing stand­out guard Wyn­ston Tabbs.

“I think we’ll have a great group, start­ing with a kid like Wyn­ston,” Booth said. “He’s very tal­ented and it will be great to start with some­one like that as a leader, some­one who’s been around and who knows what it takes to win in the WCAC. I’m re­ally ex­cited about this group and I think we can be suc­cess­ful right away. I want to be able to

com­pete and be on top of the con­fer­ence in the WCAC. I set lofty goals and for me I al­ways take the un­der­dog ap­proach, but the pro­gram’s go­ing to put in a lot of work to try and out­work the com­pe­ti­tion.”

Both has coached at var­i­ous lev­els but said work­ing with high school­ers has its def­i­nite ad­van­tages.

“They don’t have [bad] habits that have formed through­out the years, so it’s eas­ier be­cause you can teach them good habits,” he said. “You can build them up in the right

di­rec­tion. [And] with the age it’s huge years for devel­op­ment both on and off the court, so it’s such a spe­cial time for them.”

Both said his coach­ing style con­sists of speed and ver­sa­til­ity.

“I re­ally like an up-tempo sys­tem,” he said. “I pred­i­cate it on de­fense, [and then] 94 feet get­ting up [the court] to the of­fense and mak­ing teams un­com­fort­able. That way it kind of opens it up of­fen­sively and [that] gets the floor spread and [play­ers are] able to share in the play and see mul­ti­ple guys be ag­gres­sive and at­tack. I’m a mo­ti­va­tor and I def­i­nitely want to be a leader and I try to be hands-on. I look at my­self

as a teacher on the court.”

Booth trans­ferred from Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based Gon­zaga Col­lege High School to The Heights School in Mont­gomery County fol­low­ing his sopho­more year, dur­ing which he un­der­went a growth spurt from 5-foot8 to 6-2. His se­nior year, the team com­piled a 21-9 record as an in­de­pen­dent, dur­ing which Booth av­er­aged 21 points and eight re­bounds per game.

A pre­ferred walk-on at North Carolina Agri­cul­tural and Tech­ni­cal State Univer­sity, Booth was a two-year starter and co-cap­tain his 12th-grade year. He led the Ag­gies in as­sists his ju­nior and se­nior year and led the team

in min­utes his se­nior sea­son.

He grad­u­ated with a bachelor’s de­gree in busi­ness man­age­ment and started a suc­ces­sion of coach­ing jobs. He was an as­sis­tant coach at The Bullis School in Mont­gomery County for a sea­son, then served as an as­sis­tant at North Carolina A&T from 2008 to 2012. Dur­ing his time with the Ag­gies, he helped sign 12 play­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer St. Mary’s Ryken stand­out R.J. Buck, who was re­cently named Patux­ent High School’s new head boys basketball coach.

Ac­cord­ing to June 22 re­lease an­nounc­ing Booth’s press re­lease, the Ag­gies’ Class of 2010 was named

the best re­cruit­ing class in the Mid-East­ern At­lantic Con­fer­ence by ESPN.

He was an as­sis­tant coach at Takoma Acad­emy in Mont­gomery County for a year, as­sis­tant coach at Bowie High School in Prince George’s County for two sea­sons and last year he was an as­sis­tant coach at St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land, where he was the first ever full-time as­sis­tant coach for the Sea­hawks. He also served as the col­lege’s as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of game op­er­a­tions.

He pre­vi­ously spent a year as a re­gional scout for the Or­lando Magic, coached the D.C. Blue Devils 17-and-Un­der AAU team and was an as­sis­tant on the 16-U team that in­cluded Markelle Fultz, the first pick in this year’s NBA draft.

He said ven­tur­ing into coach­ing al­ways seemed like the nat­u­ral thing for him to do.

“I’ve al­ways been kind of a gym rat. Even from my younger days I stayed in the gym even when I wasn’t play­ing [and] was watch­ing, eval­u­at­ing,” he said, “so af­ter I fin­ished my play­ing days it was kind of like a nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion of me be­ing around the game and coach­ing.”

He cur­rently owns the District Basketball Club, an AAU or­ga­ni­za­tion that fields three teams of 15- to 17-year-olds.

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL REID

Wal­ter Booth, a Wal­dorf res­i­dent, was re­cently named head boys var­sity basketball coach at St. Mary’s Ryken High School.

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