Devin Booker comes in at number 16 in ESPN’s latest class of 2014 rankings. But on Michigan’s list of 2014 prospects, it’s easy to see Booker is priority number one.
The Wolverines have been recruiting Booker, a Grand Rapids native, since he was in eighth grade, and even though he spends his school year down south in Moss Point, Mississippi, Michigan is still in firm position to land a much-coveted commitment from the star shooting guard.
“Michigan’s been recruiting me since the eighth grade so it’s not even like they’re telling me how I fit in the offense,” Booker said at the NBPA Top-100 Camp on Thursday. “We’ve been through all that. Now, it’s just keeping in contact and seeing if that’s the right school for me.”
Booker said he talks with Michigan coaches almost every day, either through text or over the phone. Usually it’s Michigan assistant coach Bacari Alexander or John Beilein checking in.
While Booker spends the school year in Mississippi, his summers are still spent in Grand Rapids with his mom. This make for pretty easy unofficial visits to either of the in-state schools vying for his services — Michigan and Michigan State.
“I haven’t planned anything, but I am in Michigan for the whole summer with my mom,” Booker said. “If she wants to go see the school or something like that or Michigan State, then we can do it.”
Booker most recently visited Ann Arbor at Michigan’s College Practice Camp on June 1st. There, the 6-foot-3 swingman put on a show, displaying his diverse offensive skill set as well as tenacious defense.
A point of emphasis for Booker is improving his shooting off the dribble, which he says is key given the way he’s defended during his high school games. His dad, former NBA player Melvin Booker, has been a big part of his development in that area.
“Going down with my dad, he’s taught me a lot of things where it’s helped me so much off the bounce,” Booker said. “Facing double teams in high school, you can’t really just get spot-up shots because people are denying you. So you have to get most things off the bounce or pick and roll. I’m still working on my game, I’m trying to get my game the most developed I can.”
Considering the assorted possibilities of where Booker could land after he graduates, it’s a smart move — Booker will find himself competing against the best for playing time no matter which school he decides to attend.
Among those recruiting him the hardest at the moment, Booker listed Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, North Carolina, Duke, Florida, Stanford and Kentucky.
About that last school — Booker appears to be quite high on its list of priorities. Booker said he talks with Kentucky coach John Calipari “on a day to day basis.”
“Me and Coach Calipari, we text back and forth, we’ll talk on the phone,” Booker said. “He actually has a good relationship with my mom and dad, he’s been talking to them. So we’re talking about a visit sometime soon. I think right now it’ll be an unofficial. After the summer, I might take an official.”
Duke and North Carolina were both thought to be high on Booker’s list after he visited the Triangle. But the Tar Heels landed a commitment from Theo Pinson while Grayson Allen pledged to Duke. Booker admitted that “everyone just says I’m a Duke kid,” but the contact between him and both Carolina schools has slowed down recently.
“It’s slowed down a little bit with [Duke]. Texting is not on a day to day basis,” Booker said. “It might be because of the commit they got. If I don’t feel it’s the right fit or they stop recruiting me, I feel like it’s over.
“It’s slowed down [with North Carolina] ever since they got the commits. They still text me, they said they still need a shooter to space the floor. I’m just listening to everything right now.”
Despite all the attention, Booker doesn’t appear to have any immediate plans on trimming down his list. The talented guard has been going with the flow this summer, and there likely won’t be any action on his part until the fall.
“I don’t have a timeframe, but it is getting hot right now so I’m thinking sometime after the summer I might cut it down just a little bit to eight or five,” Booker said.
But, he added, “You never know.”
Justin Albers contributed to this report.