It’s hard to imagine the 18th best recruit in the country being overshadowed in college basketball. But, that’s exactly what Devin Booker was for the first part of the 2014-15 season.
People wondered how Booker would fit into the Kentucky rotation after struggling with his shot in the Bahamas this summer. That’s why he was brought to Lexington. He was supposed to be the knock down shooter that the Wildcats desperately needed to go alongside Aaron Harrison.
What if all that led to Devin Booker being compared to a probably NBA All-Star and a guy who has represented the USA in international play? What if Devin Booker is the next Klay Thompson? What if Devin Booker is a lottery pick? That John Calipari, man.
Booker, who looked like a four-year player when the season started has been rocketing up the mock drafts. Last week ESPN NBA insider Chad Ford had the following to say about Booker:
“Enter Booker, who is shooting a lights-out 50 percent from behind the arc, on 30-for-60 shooting. He has been on fire over the past month, shooting 16-for-21 from 3-point range. Booker isn’t a great athlete and doesn’t necessarily bring a lot of other elite skills to the table, but his shot is so pure that more and more scouts are talking about him as the best shooter in the draft. Yes, Anderson is shooting the ball even better, but there’s skepticism that he can keep hitting shots at this clip. Oubre, because of his size and athleticism, is a better prospect than both players. But it’s looking as though Booker might not only crack the first round, he could end up in the late lottery to early 20s. A number of teams need shooters, and this draft is proving they are hard to come by.”
Over the last month, Booker has shown his value to Kentucky. Kentucky head coach John Calipari has called on the freshman to help close games, whether it’s on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. His 6’6” frame allows him to guard multiple positions while still being a threat offensively.
The Moss Point, Miss., native is quickly becoming the go-to option on the offensive side of the ball for Kentucky. He’s averaging over 10 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from deep.
Booker’s play when Kentucky was struggling against Ole Miss and Texas A&M showed why he’s the most important player on the roster this season. Against Ole Miss he pitched in 13 points while also forcing bad shots at the end of regulation when the Rebels seemed to be getting whatever they wanted. Against the Aggies, Booker led all scorers with 18 points.
The other reason Booker is so valuable is due to the way Kentucky plays. The Wildcats aren’t a run-and-gun team and play slower than most people realize. Due to the half-court offense it helps having someone like Booker who teams have to key on. With a handle that’s equivalent to a point guard and obvious shooting threat, it makes defenses think about how to play him.
As the season goes on, keep an eye on Booker’s stock. It might seem crazy, but in the 2015-16 NBA season there might be another Splash Brother.