Tay Boothman is Turned Up

by Justin Vargas | Posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

It doesn't take long to see the many faces and personalities of Za-Ontay "Tay" Boothman. All it takes is to watch him on the basketball court. While his goofiness and infectious attitude is what will probably catch your attention first about it, when he get's in game mode, he is locked in. He wants to be coached and wants to be pushed to the max. He almost needs it to be the best version of himself. He needs you to yell at him when he turns the ball over. But then share a laugh with him about it over the game.

That coaching was what helped him thrive as a sophomore at Buckeye High School for Head Coach Randy Bland. Tay's 23 points per game this past season were a big reason why they went 24-5 on the season on their way to the final 4 game where they lost to Salpointe Catholic in Overtime. Tay, paired with 6-foot-5 2019 wing Otis Frazier, combined for over 50 points per game and only loss to two in-state opponents. That semi-final Salpointe loss and a loss earlier in the season to the eventual state champion, Shadow Mountain.

The 2017-18 season was Boothman's coming-out party. He put the state on notice that there was another up and coming guard that was a straight up assassin on the hardwood. A 6-foot-1 driller with almost unlimited range. He made more than a couple coaches yell out to his guards to pick him up at half-court because of that range.

Tay has now taken that energy and shooting touch and put it into the spring with his Powerhouse 16U Elite team. Like Bland, Coach John Ortega carries that same type of relationship with Boothman. When he makes some of those careless turnovers or takes a poor shot like most sophomore's do, it is Coach Ortega that gets into him on the bench. The popular occurrence is for Boothman to get back in the game, hit a couple shots, run the pick-and-roll to perfection with one of his athletic and talented bigs and cause some raucous on the defensive end to get them out in transition and create an easy scoring opportunities with one of his high-flying wings.

Boothman is not the type of kid that has a quiet good game. When he puts some things together it is usually in a big game on a stage and he is performing. When he hits a shot, it fuels his defense. When his teammate gets a dunk, he is the first one cheering. If he happens to be on the bench, he is leading the mob to make some noise. He is also the kid that when you are at an event and the scorekeeper is late coming back from a bathroom break or the scheduling for staff got mixed up, he will hop behind the scoreboard after just playing a game and operate the scoreboard to perfection.

To understand his work ethic and attitude, you have to know his background. He holds a 3.85 GPA and does it without much stress and while playing basketball full-time. The son of an ex-military family whose both parents now work in the corporate world. His parents demand respect and discipline out of him, but also love and celebrate his big personality. His big brother was an assistant coach on the Buckeye staff and will usually be in the stands at every practice, supporting and pushing his little brother to get better.

Not that Boothman needs much pushing. He wants to be great. He wants to achieve every goal he has set for himself on the basketball court. He wants to train and practice and play on a team that is successful. He wants to be a big reason why that team is successful. He is still far from a finished product. Like most 16 year-olds, he needs to gain some weight and get stronger. His handle still gets a little loose at times. While he can go stretches of not missing from the outside, his shot can be inconsistent at times. While streaky shooters are apart of the game, you can't help but thing that with a little more work and more strength, his shot will be more steady than streaky. When locked in defensively, he gets in jerseys and makes opposing guards uncomfortable at times. Staying locked in every minute of every game on that side of the court is something he can work on.

Last weekend Boothman shined for his Powerhouse squad in the West Coast Elite Hoop Review in LA. He sliced up defenses with his scoring ability and running the point and distributing the ball. In a game against the Oakland Soldiers 16U team, he dropped 24 points and 6 assists and was in one of them zones that you saw in him in the high school season at Buckeye and caught the eye of a number of college coaches in attendance.

This weekend he will lace up his sneakers again in Gerry Frietas' NorCal Spring Showcase in Oakland and look to match last weekends performance for the 2nd session of the live period in hopes of picking up some more college interest. Stay tuned...




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