UK Recruiting

Next Cats: 2014 prospect Booker calm amid recruiting storm

2014 basketball prospect Devin Booker of Moss Point, Miss. ( photo)
2014 basketball prospect Devin Booker of Moss Point, Miss. ( photo)

There's been a steady stream of famous faces from the college basketball world passing through Moss Point, Miss., lately.

John Calipari, Tom Izzo, John Beilein and Frank Haith have all stopped by in recent weeks.

That hasn't traditionally been a common sight in Moss Point, where Devin Booker has steadily emerged as one of the best high school basketball players in the country.

"It's exciting, man," Moss Point Coach Micoe Cotton told the Herald-Leader. "I'm pretty sure some schools that have a bunch of D-I players, it can become normal. But this is an exciting feeling. A real exciting feeling.

"I can't really speak for Devin. But I'm pretty sure that as a player you dream of top coaches coming by to see you and watch you and talk to you and offer you. It has to be a great feeling."

In a few weeks, one of those college coaches will be sharing in the excitement.

Cotton said Booker is planning to announce his college decision Oct. 31 during a ceremony at the high school. UK, Michigan, Michigan State and Missouri are the finalists, and they all have their own advantages.

Booker — a 6-foot-5 shooting guard — has grown close to the two coaching staffs in Michigan, where his mother still lives and he visits often.

His father, Melvin Booker, was a star player for Missouri in the early 1990s.

Devin moved to Mississippi before his sophomore year to be with his father and improve his game under his tutelage. He has made great strides in the time since, and Cotton said Melvin Booker — an assistant coach at Moss Point — has played a major role in his development on and off the court.

"His dad has been there," he said. "His dad has been on the highest level."

Then there's Kentucky, which recently got a commitment from Tyler Ulis, another Class of 2014 star and a good friend of Booker. The two players have talked often about teaming up in college.

Telling three of those schools "no" will be a tough task, but Booker has been thorough with his recruitment.

He's traveled to Michigan and Michigan State several times each, and those trips include an official visit to East Lansing last month and an official trip to Ann Arbor this weekend.

He's also already seen Missouri and will return to Columbia for his final official visit later this month.

Kentucky started recruiting Booker earlier this year. Calipari has made multiple trips to Moss Point, and Booker took his official visit to UK last month.

"He loved the visit," Cotton said, "but Devin has a poker face. He's not going to get overly excited about anything. That's one of the great things about him. Even the most high-pressure moments, Devin is going to be calm. ... He's going to figure out a way to get through that storm."

That's what coaches like about him.

That, and his ability to busy up a box score. ranks Booker as the No. 30 overall player in the Class of 2014, and national analyst Evan Daniels calls him "one of the best shooters" in the country.

"Devin has good size at the two-guard spot," Daniels recently told the Herald-Leader. "He has a pretty quick release. He's skilled enough to get to the mid range and make those shots too. His game revolves around his jump shot."

He's also mentally tough.

"Besides being an excellent shooter, his basketball IQ is real high," Cotton said. "I call him the Peyton Manning of basketball. While everybody else is going real fast, he has the ability to stay at the same pace and slow the game down.

"It's like the Bionic Man. It's like he can focus and see it happen before it happens."

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