His announcement date of Halloween is creeping ever closer and Kentucky basketball recruit Devin Booker looks like he is giving the Missouri Tigers a good hard look before making his decision. Booker, who spent last weekend in Missouri will be making yet another visit this weekend. I think that Booker still likes Kentucky and this visit in part, is to help honor his father who starred for the Tigers.
Booker took his official visit to Mizzou last weekend. The Class of 2014 shooting guard will return to Columbia on Friday for the Tigers’ exhibition game against Oklahoma City University. On that night, Missouri will honor its 1993-94 team that went undefeated in Big Eight play and advanced to the Elite Eight. Booker’s father — Melvin Booker — was the star of that squad.
The return trip shouldn’t come as a surprise, and it’s not necessarily a bad sign for Kentucky. Booker had previously said that he might visit Missouri in back-to-back weeks so he could attend the ceremony honoring his father’s team.
Booker has already taken official visits to UK, Michigan and Michigan State. He’s close friends with point guard Tyler Ulis, who committed to Kentucky last month.
It looks like a three team race for Booker and all three teams involved feel good for certain reasons. If Booker has made his decision, he certainly is not tipping his hands towards where he is headed.
“So right now, I’m just trying to talk with my parents and try to figure this thing out soon. I want to get it done before the signing period (ends), but I’m not going to force myself.”
Booker visited both Kentucky and Michigan State on the weekend of Sept. 6-9 and went to Michigan on Oct. 5. He arrived back in Mississippi Sunday after the first of consecutive trips to Columbia, Mo., with plans to return to this weekend when his father, Melvin, is honored along with the rest of Missouri’s 1994 Big 8 championship team.
Booker has long-time personal ties with three of the schools on his final list, having lived with his mother in Michigan through the ninth grade and with his father having played at Missouri. Kentucky also has an in with him, having already secured a verbal commitment from Booker’s close friend, Illinois high school point guard Tyler Ulis.
“(Ulis) keeps bugging me about it and he’s trying to get me to go there with him,” Booker said. “And since I’ve been on my visits, the (Kentucky) players have made me feel welcome, too. But Tyler is a good friend of mine.
“Missouri has been recruiting me since the eighth grade, so that’s a big deal also. And I’ve got a hometown connection with the Michigan schools, so that’s why this decision is so tough.”
Depending on what Booker does, James Blackmon Jr could become a must grab recruit. Even if Booker comes to Kentucky, there is room for Blackmon on the roster and it is speculated that he can play the point as well. If Booker goes elsewhere, Blackmon is that much more a necessity. Blackmon was at BBM last weekend and talks about his visit.
Blackmon Jr. says he got a great feel for Kentucky on his official visit where he attended the Big Blue Madness festivities.
“What stood out the most was how crazy the fans are about Kentucky basketball and how much of a big deal it is,” Blackmon Jr. said.
He also was very impressed with his meeting with coach John Calipari.
“That was the main thing I took away from the visit is when Coach Calipari talked to me about being a shooting guard and a point guard,” he said. “That is something I liked a lot. It showed me how I would fit.”
In addition to his visit to Kentucky, Blackmon Jr. has also taken an official visit to Michigan and unofficial visits to Michigan State, Kansas and Indiana, and he said there’s a possibility of visiting Indiana officially or unofficially again before making a decision.
Blackmon Jr. has also put a lot of thought into what he is looking for in a coach.
“I want to feel comfortable with the coach,” he said. “I want him to do right by me, help me develop, help me get better.”