Booker ready to visit Tobacco Rd

Devin Booker

Over the winter the Duke coaching staff began evaluating the class of 2014 in hopes of filling up the recruiting radar. One prospect who has caught Duke's attention is five star scoring guard Devin Booker, who will make a trip to Tobacco Road next weekend. He spoke to TDD about that and his recruiting process in general.

"I'm actually going up to Duke and North Carolina on the 23rd and 24th," said Moss Point (Miss.) High standout Devin Booker. "We have been talking to both programs, but weren't sure when we were going to be able to make it up for a visit. However, my season ended sooner than everyone thought it would, so I now have a free weekend and my dad and I are going to get up there."

Booker, who averaged 30 points per game for a very young Moss Point team this season, says the experience as a team leader was invaluable, even though his team was eliminated in double overtime in the first round of the state playoffs.

"We were really, really young. We had three sophomores, two juniors, two seniors, and a freshman who played. I felt like I improved in a lot of areas as the year went along, and our team got better. We lost the first five or six games of the year, but eventually started putting it all together."

Part of Booker's evolution as a junior was to learn to get his own shot and to take his opponents off the dribble. And though he enjoyed beating opponents to the rim, he also made sure to focus on what seems to be a lost art in today's game.

"I definitely work hard on my mid-range game as well as my ball-handling. When my dad played, it was his bread and butter to be able to pull up and knock down a shot from around the free throw line. I'm always trying to find ways to improve and expand, and that's a key area for me. I'm trying to prove that I'm a lot more than just a shooter."

"Just a shooter" may have been what the Blue Devil coaching staff was thinking they'd find when assistant coach Jeff Capel flew to Mississippi recently for an in-person evaluation of Booker. However, according to the 6-foot-4 standout, Capel was quickly cured of any such notions.

"He told me he was coming down and thought he'd find a guy who could really shoot, but that was about it. Afterwards he told me he saw a whole lot more in my game that he originally expected. Coach Capel said Duke's interest is very high and if he was the head coach, I'd have an offer."

But, as is usual with Duke recruiting, official offers come only from one place.

"Duke won't offer until Coach K sees me in person, and I really understand that. In the meantime I've had good conversations with Duke and I'm looking forward to the visit with them on the 24th. I'm looking forward to him seeing me play, and I know they have great interest in me."

Prior to making it to Durham, however, Booker will head to Chapel Hill to visit the Tar Heels who have recently jumped in with interest along with the Blue Devils.

"Both of them are just great programs and great schools. I feel like it's important to get up there and really see what it's all about. I want to see the environments, the schools, and the campuses. If those two schools are going to be ones I am going to consider heavily, then I need to get up there and see them at this point, I think."

And speaking of both programs, Booker was among the millions of fans who tuned in on Wednesday night to see the first installment of this year's rivalry between the two Tobacco Road foes.

"It was a crazy looking atmosphere. I really wish I could have been there in person. I thought UNC came in as underdogs and really fought hard, but Duke got their shooters going and that was too much for them. Really, it looked like a great game."

Regardless of how things go this weekend, Booker doesn't anticipate doing much with recruiting for several months. Instead he's already back in the gym preparing for the EYBL season in which he'll run with the Alabama Challenge again.

"I've already switched to working out with the Nike ball for that, and I'm really excited to work and go against the competition in the EYBL. Sometime between the end of AAU season and the beginning of my high school season is when I see myself narrowing things down, taking some visits, and making a decision."

Booker is rated as the nation's No. 3 shooting guard, and No. 23 overall prospect in the class of 2014.

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