Poets using leisure time for rest, conversation Dunbar having fun, on and off court

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- On the basketball court they call Dunbar junior Keith Booth one of the nation's top underclassmen. Off the court, his roommate, Michael Cooper, calls him Sleepy Floyd.

It's not that Booth bears any resemblance to the former Georgetown guard who now plays for the Houston Rockets. Booth earned the nickname because of what he does in his spare time on road trips.


"Eat and sleep. I'm always sleeping. All the way to the game in the van, I'm sleeping," said Booth.

It has been like that for many of the players here since Thursday for the Beach Ball Classic.


The tournament directors have put together an impressive field, featuring six of the nation's top 25 teams, including the top three. When the teams are on the court in the evening, there is plenty of excitement; but for most of the day, there is little to do.

The weather has been cool and skies overcast for most of the tournament, so the teams have not been able to spend much time on the beach.

"We just sit around and talk and look at sports on TV," said Dunbar senior guard Cyrus Jones. "We might play card games. We get a lot of rest. We just try to stay off our feet, if we have a big game."

The Poets are using this trip to get some much-needed rest. They spent two days in Baltimore last week after four days at a tournament in Honolulu. They also have played in tournaments in Johnstown, Pa., and in St. Louis within the past three weeks.

"We'd be out there on the beach in Hawaii in our spare time having fun," said Booth. "Here we sit around talking about basketball and girls. It's fun. We're like family. We just sit around talking and having fun. It's not boring."

In Hawaii, the Poets' leisure time was filled by tournament officials with tourist attractions, although Dunbar coach Pete Pompey says he prefers having the free time.

"This tournament wasn't planned for sight-seeing," Pompey said. Hawaii we had the Pearl Harbor tour and snorkling. We try not to bog the kids down with too much regimentation, but we do ask that, if they have homework or reading to do, they do that."

Jones said most of the players were not given any homework for the holidays. Some brought along study guides for the Scholastic Aptitude Test. They spend time studying with Warren Hayman, the coordinator of a program with Johns Hopkins and Dunbar.


For the most part, the players like to mingle with their opponents. There are teams from California, New York, Pennsylvania and Kentucky in addition to local teams participating.

"I'm close friends with Rasheed Wallace and Shawn Smith [from Philadelphia's Simon Gratz]," said Booth. "I know them real good from [summer] camps. We hang out and talk about colleges. Stuff like who's recruiting who and all that."

"The kids want to enjoy themselves," said Pompey. "They want to get out and meet other people, talk to other people. Also since we have been No. 1, we haven't had a whole lot of time to ourselves. There are a lot of interviews."

Being No. 1 also has brought some unwanted attention.

"Everywhere you go, you've got the girls and you've got the groupies," said Pompey. "They know when the big tournaments are going to come to town and when the ball players are going to come to town. They are right there waiting. We talk about not being stupid."

Pompey admits that he is not always popular with his players when he has to chase away the girls and groupies.


"Kids want to do what they want to do, but not as long as I'm responsible for them," he said. "I'm not going to let them do what they want. I give them enough freedom to have fun, but not let them get involved in things that will be a detriment to their health or anything else."