Carlos Boozer was one of the few people in Juneau, Alaska, who had never heard of Trajan Langdon on Feb. 6, 1994, when he and his father, also named Carlos, sat down to watch the state Class 4A basketball championship game on TV. As the two stunned Carloses looked on, Langdon played the Road Runner to five helpless Wile E. Coyotes, pouring in 39 points for East Anchorage High in its 93-60 blowout of Juneau-Douglas High. During the game, young Carlos, then age 12, inched up to the edge of the sofa as if he hoped to get subbed in. "That game really woke Junior up," says the elder Carlos. "He knew right then that he wanted to be like Trajan Langdon. The second that game ended he said, 'Dad, we need to go to the gym.' "
Ever since the Boozer family moved to Juneau from Washington, D.C., in 1988, young Carlos had studied the game under his father, an avid player while he attended Maryland in the early '70s. The pair played plenty of one-on-one because pickup hoops games were difficult to find. "To grow as a player in Alaska, you need to be able to visualize the tough competition," Carlos Jr. says, "because it usually isn't there."
In his three seasons at Juneau-Douglas High, the 6'9", 225-pound Boozer has faced only a few opponents his size and none with his skills, many of which he honed against top competition during summers in the Lower 48. As a junior he averaged 20.4 points and 9.2 rebounds, punctuating his season by sinking a baseline leaner with 3.4 seconds left to give Juneau-Douglas a 50-48 win over East in the state title game. Ranked among the nation's top 10 prospects by many recruiting services, Boozer is by far the hottest recruit from Alaska since Langdon. "Some of our best kids think they're the only guy in the world who can play, and when they go to the outside, they get a big fat Wilson stamped on their foreheads," Juneau-Douglas coach George Houston says. "Carlos hasn't fallen for that. He keeps working hard to prove that he can play with anybody."
Boozer has narrowed his college choices to St. John's, UCLA and Duke, where on his recruiting visit last month he met Langdon for the first time. "I owe him so much because I got to see another Alaskan go through the process and succeed," says Boozer, who attended the Alaska Shootout to scout the Blue Devils. "Who knows? Without Trajan opening the doors for me, I might never have pursued my hoop dreams."