Boozer in bloom

Juneau-Douglas High School grad maintains his Alaska roots while starring in the NBA

Posted: Monday, November 20, 2006

SEATTLE - Whenever former Juneau-Douglas High School basketball standout-turned-NBA star, Carlos Boozer, takes the court, it seems like every Alaskan within 100 miles is there.

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Friday night was no exception as Boozer's Utah Jazz visited the Seattle SuperSonics. Alaskans touched by Boozer's magic flooded Key Arena to watch their favorite player score 14 points and grab 13 rebounds as Utah defeated Seattle 118-109.

Among those Alaskans in attendance were former competitors, Crimson Bears teammates, fans and former high school coach George Houston.

Houston, now retired, said he remains close with his former student.

"It's great, one of the best," Boozer said of his relationship with Houston. "We're best of friends and talk once or twice every couple of weeks. I invited him down and he's doing what he wants in his retirement. He deserves it."

Boozer and Houston helped lead Juneau-Douglas to state championships in 1997 and 1998. He graduated in 1999.

While the two became an Alaska basketball force in the mid to late '90s, their relationship started earlier in the decade as Boozer, then a middle school student, attended the Houston Hoop Camp.

"I had him in my seventh and eighth grade basketball camps, then through high school and since," Houston said. "It's been an ongoing process and we still talk."

His NBA level talent wasn't always obvious to Houston in the early days, but the coach did recognize Boozer's potential.

Houston also credited Boozer's college coach, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, for furthering his prized pupil's potential.

"So many things can change but he had a great amount of potential," Houston said of a young Boozer. "He was all arms and legs and very slender at the time, and he's obviously matured a great deal and improved a great deal to get to this level. That's exactly what we had to do and he had great training certainly after high school when he went to play for coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke."

John Blasco, a former JDHS teammate of Boozer's, also attended the game. Blasco's entering his second year as high school basketball coach at Lake Washington High School in Seattle.

He said he hasn't seen a player like Boozer since he began coaching.

"Boozer is special," Blasco laughed.

Following the game, Boozer took the time to greet and chat the Alaska fans who made the trip south to see him - Kevin Fagerstrom, a former Juneau-Douglas basketball player himself, and his family; former opponent and 2000 Sitka High School graduate Casey Campbell; along with fans Mike Monagle, Nancy Long, Paula Scavera and Steve Haavig, all of whom sported JDHS jerseys at the game.

Though it's been almost a decade since Boozer donned the Juneau-Douglas crimson and black, his legacy in Southeast Alaska continues to be felt.

Kake's Dean Cavanaugh, who helped the Thunderbirds win the Class 2A Southeast title last season, is a fan of Boozer's.

"I think he's great," said Cavanaugh. "I'm excited to be able to attend one of his games."

Things haven't always been perfect for Boozer in his NBA career, having missed big chunks of the last two seasons with foot and hamstring injuries.

Healthy through the first 10 games this season, however, the 6-foot-9, 258-pound power forward is enjoying a career year.

Boozer leads Utah in scoring at 20.5 points per game and his 13 rebounds per game is good for second in the entire league.

"I'm doing great," Boozer said. "I have no injuries. I'm feeling very healthy."

His health and ability to score under the boards has lifted Utah to an NBA-best record of 9-1 to start the season. Boozer is quick to share the credit for the team's success, though.

"I just keep playing hard," Boozer said. "The team is doing a great job of sharing the ball offensively and a great job helping each other on defense. If we keep doing that, we'll keep winning games, hopefully."

Boozer isn't the only one in his family to be enjoying success on the court.

His little brother, Charles, is also a talented player. Charles Boozer, a 6-foot-3 guard, signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday with Iowa State University.

Despite now living in the Lower 48, Boozer remains close to his Juneau roots.

"I go back to Juneau every summer so I don't miss it much," he said.

The forward also followed the new high school plans and had some thoughts on the impact Thunder Mountain High School will have on sports locally.

"The educational system will probably improve but it won't be so good for sports," Boozer said.

He explained that the kids are going to split up into two teams.

"The talent in town is all going to one high school," Boozer said of the current situation. "Some of the kids will have to go to the new school because of boundary restrictions."

He added the teams won't be as strong because the talent will be divided across town.

"I'm a fan of the old high school, the one I graduated from and the one my coach graduated from," Boozer said.

To date, Boozer earned two high school state championships, was a three-time Alaska player of the year, won an NCAA championship with Duke, a McDonald's All American honor and won a bronze medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Currently, the Utah forward ranks behind only his former teammate, Cleveland's LeBron James, in the weekly power rankings on

In addition to his athletic success, his wife, CeCe, gave birth to a son on May 31.

More photos available in Spotted.

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