While helping Team USA prepare for the Olympics in Rio as a member of the U.S. Select Team, former Wildcat and current Phoenix guard Devin Booker, impressed Team USA members and coaches Tom Thibodeau and Gregg Popovich with his skills and professionalism on the court.
Thibodeau had high praise for Booker and his ability to enhance the players around him.
“I think he is terrific,” Thibodeau said of the 19-year-old. “He had a great rookie season. The way he shoots the ball, the way he carries himself. He works extremely hard on both sides of the ball. He plays for the team. He makes people around him better.”
Booker was the 13th overall pick out of Kentucky in the 2015 NBA Draft and averaged 13.8 points per game as a rookie for the Phoenix Suns last season. His hard work last season earned him the fourth spot in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting.
Golden State Warriors shooting guard and Team USA member Klay Thompson marveled at Booker’s abilities and professionalism at such a young age, adding that the Sun’s got a prime player from the draft.
“First of all, he’s only 19. And that’s unbelievable,” Thompson said of 6-foot-6 shooting guard. “When I was 19, I wasn’t even thinking about the league. I was still in college trying to get to my next class. He’s going to be one of the best 2-guards in this league one day. He’s a great shooter and everyone says that, but he’s got such a great floor game as well. Phoenix got a real steal out of him.”
Team USA coach Gregg Popovich was impressed by Booker’s character and said he has all the makings of a great NBA player.
“He’s a fine player. What makes him special is his character. He really enjoys what he is doing; he’s a pro about it. He’s got a great work ethic and he’s got a great sense of humor to go along with it. So, he’s got everything you need to be a great player,” Popovich said.
Sacramento King’s big man and Team USA member Demarcus Cousins had nothing but love for his fellow former Cat.
“I love Devin Booker. I’m a huge fan of Devin Booker,” Cousins said. “I think he is going to be a very special player in this league. His talent is obvious and his potential is obvious. I’m excited for his growth.”
Booker joined fellow former Wildcats Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein on the U.S. Select Team and was back in Lexington yesterday to conduct a shooting camp with former coach John Calipari.