Booker keeps focus during playoff run

By Hannah Mueoz

Although Donnelle Booker spends around four hours a day playing
basketball in Kellogg Gym, he doesn’t have any personal goals while
on the court.

His drive is for the men’s basketball team to see improvements,
and his only hope is to advance to the NCAA tournament.

“It doesn’t matter how good you’re playing if you’re losing,”
said Booker.

Booker, 19, is a sophomore starting forward averaging 8.3 points
30 minutes per game. The team has high hopes for Booker; he has
continued to progress since his first impact season at Cal
Poly.

“I think he’s made some big strides,” said head coach Greg
Kamansky. “[The other team] looks to expose him every game.”

Booker has an aggressive defensive game, with a deadly arm for
blocking shots, and he is also a top rebounder for the Broncos,
averaging 4.8 boards per contest.

His solid contributions have helped the somewhat streaky Broncos
to a tie for fifth place in the California Collegiate Athletic
Association, with a 9-7 conference record.

The Broncos are 10-11 overall, and 9-6 after a shaky 1-5 start
to the season.During his first year at Cal Poly, Booker was named
the CCAA Freshman of the Year for his impressive record in blocked
shots, averaging 0.92 per game. Booker also came off of the bench
to average of 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Basketball has become second nature to Booker since he began
playing at 9 years old. His mother wanted to get him involved in
sports, so he began playing baseball. Booker became bored with the
slow-paced game, so his mother signed him up for basketball.

“I started liking [basketball], but then I grew to love it,”
said Booker.

The gym is currently his favorite place to be.

His teammates also enjoy his presence, as some refer to him as
the “team clown.””He’s a great teammate. He’s always smiling, and
he plays hard everyday,” said junior guard Rich Collins.

His successful basketball career did not begin at Cal Poly.
While attending Cajon High School in San Bernardino, Booker was
awarded the San Andreas League’s Most Valuable Player award while
also obtaining first-team All San Bernardino County honors.

Booker’s focus is not solely on basketball, however. He is
intensely focused on academics, pursuing a communication degree
with an emphasis in public relations. He chose to major in this
field due to the flexibility it entails; he remains unsure of his
future career.

“I like to eat, sleep, watch TV, listen to music, but most
importantly, study,” said Booker.

Studying is extremely important to Booker, as he’s always
striving to learn. Watching the Discovery Channel and the History
Channel are his hobbies because he enjoys learning something
new.

For now, Booker focuses on advancing to the playoffs. He dreams
of pursuing basketball professionally, although he’s unsure if it
will happen.

“It’s a concern, but I try to be realistic,” said Booker. “I
know I won’t get drafted my third year of college, but I might be
able to do it if I work really, really hard and improve on my weak
areas.”

Booker, however, is not concerned about professional basketball
for the time being, nor is he focusing on next year. His main focus
remains on the next game.

Booker and Cal Poly will return to the court on the road for a
big test Wednesday against Cal State San Bernardino. The Broncos
then return to Kellogg Gym for a Senior Night game Saturday against
UC San Diego. It will be the final game Booker plays with seniors
Kaelen Daniels and Kevin Neveu.

Booker keeps focus during playoff run

Matthew Zu/The Poly Post

Booker keeps focus during playoff run

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