Booker Rising to New Challenge

Moss Point (MS) combo guard Devin Booker emerged as one of the top prospects in the 2014 class last season. This year the challenge is different, as now everyone knows who he is. For his part, he is more than ready to meet it. The talented youngster shares the latest on the growth of his game, his recruitment, and more.

Sam Webb: How’s the early season going for you so far?

Devin Booker: “It’s going good. I mean, we started off slow; we were like 1-6, but now we’re starting to turn things around. We’ve won three in a row now.”

Sam Webb: I know, talking to your dad, he said it was going to be a little tougher for you this year.  Tell me about this year’s squad.  I know it’s a different challenge.  Last year you were a new guy, and now you’re like ‘the guy’.

Devin Booker: “This year – well, last year, we lost seven seniors from last year to this year, so that’s one thing. This year, we’re working with – like, we have three sophomores who start, so we’re really young. That’s why I think we had a slow start, and now, like you said, last year I was the new guy. I mean, people heard about me, but they didn’t know if it was all true, so you know, they played me man-to-man, but now it’s double teams, and box and ones, right from the tip.”

Sam Webb: That’s a unique challenge for you, but you’re also a different guy. I remember talking to you last year at this time. When you got down to Mississippi it was about becoming more aggressive, and matching up with those guys.  Now you’ve been through a year where you did that and you’ve been through an AAU season where you did that… so talk to me about your confidence level at this point. I know you’re seeing box and ones, and double teams, but how are you handling that on the court these days?

Devin Booker: “From tip off, you know, ever since this summer, that’s probably boosted my confidence the most, going to Kevin Durant’s camp, going to the Lebron camp, I go out on the court, I hear about the teams, and then I get out there, I’m like ‘man, I was at LeBron James’ camp, I mean, it can’t be as much as a challenge as people are saying it is’, so, you know, once the game starts, even through the double teams, sometimes I get looks, but they’re hard looks, but I think that’s going to make me better than them, though. “

Sam Webb: I saw that mental part of your game, even over the summer, really really change. What about your game itself?  How did it improve?

Devin Booker: “Well, I don’t know, I can’t really judge myself, but so many people say I look like I’ve gotten better all around. I think that comes from being at those camps with superstars of the league. You’re always hearing things, but it’s different when you hear it from a player you watched on TV, I mean, it sticks in your head more, and then, plus, I’ve been training for the past year to put on some weight.”

Sam Webb: In all the times I’ve talked to you, you haven’t really spent a lot of time talking much about what you do well.  You talk instead about what you need to improve upon… so kind of go at that angle for me.  What are the aspects of your game that you want to improve upon and get better at?

Devin Booker: “Like I said, I have a young team this year, so what me and my dad talked about before the year is I need to be a leader. Kids look up to me, they see my name on the internet and whatnot, so they listen to what I say sometimes more than what the coaches say, so I think being a leader would be biggest thimg. Physically, I’m still trying to put on weight. I’m like 189 right now.”

Sam Webb: You’ve been getting recruited for so long and have been talking to a number of schools for a while now.  Are there any new suitors coming that have offered you?

Devin Booker: “Probably not new offers, but a few new schools are starting to pick up really hard. Like Florida is starting to get into it; Duke started to get into it recently; and you know, with me being like an hour from LSU, they’re coming on hard.”

Sam Webb: As far as visits, tou made it to Missouri recently, didn’t you?

Devin Booker: “Yeah, I did. I was up there for the Alabama game, when they played Alabama in football.”

Sam Webb:  So how was that? What was that experience like?

Devin Booker: “I mean, every time I go up to Missouri, I have a good time. For every college I go to I have a good time. I just like being around the college atmosphere.  It’s great to see how fans support the school, you know, with my dad being there everywhere we go, they’re like ‘oh, this is your son, I’ve been hearing about him’, and whatnot, but the game was good, too, even though they got (blown out). You have to expect that from Alabama (laughter).”

Sam Webb: I talked to you before about narrowing down your list.  You said that that would be a collaborative process between you, your dad, and your mom. Have you guys talked about that?

Devin Booker: “We really haven’t started talking about that yet. I guess that’s still something we have to do.”

Sam Webb: So what about this… has Michigan been in much contact with you?

Devin Booker: “They came down before the season. Yeah, they came down before the season, right before the season kicked off. I mean, I understand them not making it down right now, I mean, the number three team in the nation, they’re doing big things. I’m not going to hold that against them or anything.”

Sam Webb: What do you think of how Michigan has done so far?

Devin Booker: “I got to watch their last game against Arkansas, and they’re looking real good right now. I mean, I like how Burke controls the team, and Stauskas, what is he, second in the NCAA in threes? I’ve always been a fan of Hardaway, and then Robinson III is playing great this year.”

Sam Webb: Have you and Coach Alexander stayed in frequent contact?

Devin Booker: “We text every now and then. I think it slowed up since my season started, and his season started, but that happened with most schools. Like I said, I’m not going to hold that against anybody. They’re trying to do the same thing I’m trying to do, win games.”

Sam Webb: I know last year you were able to make it out to some college basketball games, too. Is that something you anticipate doing again this year?

Devin Booker: “I have to check my schedule, you know, our season does get done early, it gets done early February, so I think that might be something that I can do. I mean, I don’t think – I’m not going up to Michigan until after the season. “

Sam Webb: I know Michigan State had been showing increased interest in you as well.  Have you heard anything more from Michigan State?

Devin Booker: “Yeah, Michigan State was at my last game.  They say when I go up there in February, they want me to come back up. I visited them right before the summer was over.”

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