Twitter & Instagram: @lilnick_13
I’ve noticed a trend in recent years: underclassmen making serious contributions on varsity teams. While this isn’t anything too unusual, I do recall that situation being more of a rarity during my own high school years not too long ago. Coaches used to recommend two years spent on freshmen/junior-varsity levels before making the jump to the more challenging varsity tier. Nowadays, I’m seeing a normality for guys in their first two years of high school to not only land a spot on varsity, but make an impact likewise to that as a veteran. It’s been intriguing to witness; the young ones can play in Richmond, VA, without question. I respect how they take on the challenge without showing signs of uneasiness in facing older/more experienced competition. One could see this trait in Nicholas Booker-Nelson ’22, for example. The young floor general for Lynnhaven Academy (Richmond, VA) had an outstanding freshmen campaign, posting season averages that would make one do a double-take.
A lefty primary ball-handler, Booker-Nelson has spent the past two seasons on the Lynx’s varsity squad, as he made his way up during his eighth-grade year. He produced very well during that first season, but really blew up stat sheets this past winter. Booker-Nelson averaged 19.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 6.5 steals per game. That equaled to a total of 500 points, 165 rebounds, 162 assists, and 170 steals total. Yes, you read those numbers correctly. Simply put, the 5’7” guard can make a play at any point and in any area of the game. He really likes to operate in the open floor, whether it involves him spotting an opportunity to work as a one-man fast break or make pitch-ahead passes. Booker-Nelson has a solid frame on him already, combining it with body control nicely to finish through contact. When he doesn’t have the ball, he can sprint the floor to spot up for some knock-down looks around the perimeter. Defensively, obviously his knack for collecting steals stands out, but this doesn’t emerge from solely gambling. Booker-Nelson moves his feet exceptionally well to cut opponents from getting straight-line drives, making them more uncomfortable as each moment passes by. In my opinion, his rebounding at his size and position impresses just as well as any of the other boxes he checks off. I’ve stated before that defense is more about will, versus pure skill.
In the midst of his freshmen season, near the end of January, Booker-Nelson also applied for the ‘Stephen Curry Underrated Tour’ in Washington D.C. and ended up chosen out of thousands of applicants for the 100 available slots. On Day 2 of the camp, he again was picked for the coveted 30 slots. As one can indicate by now, he’s had quite the high school experience already in his first outing. In addition, those should know that Booker-Nelson not only gets in done on the hardwood, however, but in the classrooms on Lynnhaven’s school grounds as well. He already holds over a 3.7 GPA; a strong starting point that should only continue to increase as he develops into an upperclassman. With his strong dedication in both the classroom and on the court, I’m sure it’s not often that one will catch Booker-Nelson freely hanging around. Nonetheless, I had a chance to take away a few minutes of his spare time and ask a few questions regarding this past 2018-19 season and his own future goals:
Personally, how do you feel this season at Lynnhaven Academy went, both the good and the bad?
“Offense was much better this year. Defense can still use some improvement… but this was the best season the school has had, ending at 19-7 overall.”
You had a big year stepping up as one of the biggest contributors on the roster. How was the transition to playing so many important minutes only as a freshman?
“At the beginning of the season, it was an adjustment to find my role on the team and to get my teammates involved. But, as the season progressed, I was able to find my role as a scorer.”
As the season went on, did you find yourself getting better at any particular skill(s)/aspect(s) of the game?
“My shooting improved. At the beginning of the year, I was more confident in attacking the basket; finishing with floaters. Towards the end, though, I started to have a lot of confidence in shooting three-pointers.”
Were there any major challenges that you and/or the team went through?
“Apart from the majority of the team being inexperienced, we struggled against Box-and-1 defenses and off-ball scoring.”
Favorite moment of the season?
“I’d have to say… coming back from a 17-point first-half deficit against Spirit Homeschool (Richmond, VA) to win the game. That, and scoring my 500th point of the year.”
With high school ball now officially wrapped up, what plans do you have moving forward into the spring/summer?
“Training to improve my shooting and overall athleticism.”
I saw you participated in Steph Curry’s ‘Underrated Tour.’ I heard some good things about that event; how was your experience?
“Oh, that was great. The counselors there taught us new drills that I’ve never done before.”
Did you take away any specific lessons/advice from that camp?
“No matter who you’re going against, good or bad, you always go out and put your heart into it.”
Once your sophomore year arrives after this summer, what’s something you want to show as improved within your game?
“I generally play point guard, but I want to improve on my off-ball movement.”
Saw you currently have a strong GPA. Got a favorite school subject(s)?
“Geometry. My teacher, Mrs. Carter, is the best with making sure you understand the material.”
Any other hobbies outside of basketball?
“I like to read and watch a lot of YouTube.”
Where does Nicholas Booker-Nelson see himself in ten years?
“Having a degree in Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.”
This is only Chapter I of Lynnhaven’s young star guard’s journey. Interested to see what else he’ll have cooking up for these next three years!