- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla. — Wizards forward Trevor Booker has never minded the moniker “junkyard dog.” It’s a common nickname for a tough, defensive-minded, high-energy player. It’s something Booker takes pride in.

With injuries to Ronny Turiaf and Andray Blatche, Booker knows he’ll have an expanded role for Washington and will need to contribute more on offense. But for Booker, it’s all in a day’s work.

Andray got hurt in the Charlotte game, so somebody had to step up,” Booker said. “I just tried to go in and fill his role as best I could, take the shots that’s coming to me and keep playing hard on defense.”

A second-year player from Clemson, the 6-foot-7 Booker is smaller than the average power forward, but he’s one of those rare young players who knows exactly who he is, what he does well, and what he needs to work on.

“I always knew my role, and that’s what I try to do,” Booker said. “I got hurt at the end of the season last season, so that slowed me down a little. And I ended up getting hurt when I went overseas, so before the season started, I think I was only practicing like a week. So I’m really just getting back into it right now, and it’s starting to show.”

Booker initally was credited with 16 points against the Bobcats on Saturday (although that was changed to 14 because of an officiating error) and 14 points against Chicago on Monday. He knows that without Blatche, he’ll need to continue adding offense to his game, and he had some experience doing that in Israel last summer. Booker joined Bnei Hasharon in August but played only until October, when he returned to the U.S. after injuring his thigh.

“When I was overseas, I was the main player. They wanted me to be the main scorer, and I wasn’t used to that,” Booker said. “I wasn’t comfortable taking those shots last year. I’ve been working, so I feel more comfortable taking those shots [this year].”

Booker’s teammates clearly seem comfortable when he’s on the floor.

Trevor’s been playing well,” forward Rashard Lewis said. “He plays hard, he rebounds, he defends, he does all the little things. He does the dirty work to help us win ballgames. I have no problem with Trevor being out there. I know he’s going to play hard, and he’s going to play the game the right way.”

As for Wizards coach Randy Wittman’s pressure style of defense, Booker’s seen it before.

“Oh, I’m definitely ready,” Booker said. “We did it in college, playing at Clemson. All we did was press the whole game, so I’m used to it.”

Wittman has confidence in Booker; he knows Booker understands his role and is more than ready to expand it to help the team when he’s on the floor.

“He’s as quick and strong as anybody he’s got to play against, and he’s got to use those things to his advantage,” Wittman said. “If he plays with that kind of energy … that’s what he has to do. He’s not a perimeter shooter. That’s how he’s going to get 14, 16 points. The opportunities are there.”