Devin Booker knew he made a strong impression on Kentucky coach John Calipari with his play last weekend in the first leg of the Nike EYBL at Los Angeles.
"He was at two or three of my games, and he sent me some texts saying how much he loved my game," said the five-star junior shooting guard from Moss Point, Miss.
What Booker didn't realize was how fast UK's interest had progressed when it came to his recruitment.
"He came down to my school today and offered me a scholarship," Booker said of Calipari. "I was shocked. Like I was saying, I knew he liked my game, but I wasn't expecting anything like that. It was pretty exciting."
Booker (6-5, 190) averaged 29.9 points and seven rebounds as a junior at Moss Point. He is currently rated the No. 3 shooting guard in the Class of 2014 by FOX Sports Next and Scout.
In addition to Kentucky, he also holds early offers from North Carolina, Duke, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri "and a few others."
His recruitment, which Booker deems to be "just in the real early stages," could be interesting on a number of different levels. He lived in Michigan with his mother prior to moving to Mississippi in 2011, so he's had a lot of exposure to the Wolverines and Spartans. His father, Melvin Booker, is a former Mizzou standout who went on to play in the NBA.
"It's a real honor to have all this interest from great programs around the country," he said. "I haven't really gotten into the recruiting process too much yet, but I have taken (unofficial) visits to all of those schools except Kentucky."
That could come sometime this summer, although Booker has indicated in other interviews that his next campus visits may actually be of the official variety in the fall.
Asked if Kentucky would be a factor in his recruitment, Booker said: "You can't ignore the history. I pay a lot of attention to the history of college basketball, and when you talk about Kentucky, it's right up there with the best. They've always had great players and teams that played for championships. I think that would appeal to any player."
He also likes Calipari's history with players at his position.
"He's had a lot of great guards," Booker said. "He's taken great players and helped them get even better, and he's taken some good players and helped them become great players. That's what I'm looking for. I want a coach to push me hard and get the best out of me."
Other key factors in his eventual decision will be "knowing who I'm playing with, how the parts fit together with the goal of winning a national championship," Booker said.
Asked what message Calipari relayed to him about his skills, Booker said: "He said he loves how I create space with my ability to shoot the ball or drive it. He said he loves that because I'm really hard to defend. But especially my shooting ability. That's my specialty."
"Booker is one of the best shooters in high school basketball," said FOX Sports Next national analyst Evan Daniels. "He has deep range, a quick trigger, and has added a middle game."
Booker said he's drawn comparisons to a young Seth Curry. "I've heard that a lot. It's an honor to be compared to someone like that. He's a guy I hope my game will be worthy of being compared to in the future.
"But I'm also trying to add to my game this summer. I want to be known for playing hard at both ends. I take a lot of pride in my defense."
Booker is playing with the Alabama Challenge this spring. The team went 1-3 last weekend in Los Angeles, "but we were really competitive for the most part," Booker said. "We're looking forward to getting better this weekend in Virginia."
The second leg of the EYBL will be in Hampton, Va., this weekend for the annual visit to the Boo Williams Sportsplex. KyScout will have coverage and updates on Booker's games from that event.
Cats offer elite 2014 shooting guard
AllWildcats Top Stories
Cats Blank Xavier 6-0Freshman left-hander tosses six innings of one-hit, shutout baseball.
Nike EYBL: Top PerformersHAMPTON, Va. -- Nike held their first Elite Youth Basketball League session over the weekend at the Boo Williams Sportsplex. Who were the top performers of the weekend? Marvin…
Scout Hoops8:24 AM
Adebayo To Hire Agent, Stay In DraftFreshman center reconsiders, closes door on return to UK.
AllWildcatsYesterday at 10:06 AM
Top 5 Ga. QB Williams back on the marketJarren Williams has backed off of his longstanding verbal commitment to Kentucky and a handful of programs are now in the mix for his services.
Scout FootballMonday at 11:55 AM