Robert Booth (second from left) with his father, Tom (far left), Melbourne High School Principal Jim Wilcoxon (second from right) and Melbourne High School Athletic Director Fred Keeney (far right).
MELBOURNE, Florida - Florida Tech head coach Billy Mims announced the signing of recent Melbourne High School graduate Robert Booth on Thursday. The forward joins Fort Pierce, Fla. product Akeem Johnson as the second local standout to join the Panther family.
“What I love most about Robert Booth is the passion he plays the game with,” Mims said. “I’m a coach that believes three things lead to success for players. Those are playing hard, playing smart and playing together.
“The first two, Robert already has. He plays hard every night, and he plays smart. He’s an intelligent basketball player. The playing together is chemistry. I think he will fit in very well with the guys we have coming back and our newcomers.”
The 6-foot-7 forward led the Bulldogs to a 23-5 record during his senior season, averaging 20.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He shot 60.5 percent from the field, dished out 1.7 assists per game and blocked 2.0 shots per game.
“I’m going to get a chance to play where my friends and family can watch me,” Booth said of playing in his home city of Melbourne. “It’s a place I’ve been around my whole life, so I’m used to it. There aren’t as many adjustments as moving to a new area.
“I want to get stronger and faster. There is a large difference in skill level between high school and college. I’m going to have to work hard on getting better in that area. I chose Florida Tech so I could be an aerospace engineer, and I really like the coach I’ll be playing for.”
Booth’s stellar senior season resulted in postseason accolades as he was named All-Space Coast Boys Basketball First Team. He was also selected to play in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Game, playing for the North squad.
During his junior campaign, Booth averaged 14.8 points and 9.4 boards per game. The Bulldogs were 19-7 on the season, including a 14-3 mark in the Cape Coast Conference.
“We’ve got the United Nations of basketball on our roster,” Mims said of bringing in a pair of local products this offseason. “We’ve got players from all over the world. In an effort to be good, we’re going to recruit a player from anywhere. People ask me where I like to recruit from. I’ll go to Mars if I think they have a guy that can help us win a championship. But the bottom line is having local guys is important to our program.
“I think it’s very good to have that connection with the local community. Julius Reid was a four-year starter for our program. Simon Cummings was from Fort Pierce just down the road, and had a great four-year career here as well. In the past couple of years, some of our top players have been local guys from the Space Coast area. Robert brings that to the equation, as well.
Booth will join a team that recorded its fourth straight winning season this past year at 16-11 overall. The Panthers won nine straight games to end the season. Two of the wins were against ranked opponents in No. 6 Florida Southern and No. 16 Saint Leo.
“I’ve watched Robert for the past four years,” Mims said. “I’ve really watched him develop. He’s made strides in his skill set that are phenomenal. If he continues to improve at Florida Tech the way he did in four years at Melbourne High, I think the sky is the limit.”