By Ashley Scoby
By the time he’s done at the University of Kentucky, Devin Booker could be the best shooter that John Calipari has coached in Lexington.
Through 19 games (he’s played in 18), Booker is shooting exactly 50 percent from behind the arc (36-72). Since Calipari has been at Kentucky, he has never coached a .500-or-better three-point shooter who shot the ball regularly (Josh Harrellson went 2-of-4 from three-point range in 2009-10).
Doron Lamb – who is considered the best shooter Calipari has brought to Kentucky – shot 48.6 percent from three in 2010-11 and 46.6 percent in the championship season of 2011-12. Kyle Wiltjer, now at Gonzaga, made 35 of his 81 three-point attempts in 2011-12 for 43.2 percent, and Darius Miller made 58 of his 131 in 2010-11 for 44.3 percent.
Aaron Harrison, Booker’s sharpshooting teammate, shot 35.6 percent from long range last season, including three straight game-winning treys during the NCAA tournament. He is connecting at a 32.4 percent clip from behind the arc this year.
For a recruit who came in as the dark horse – if that’s even possible under Calipari – Booker is in pretty good company. And he’s only getting better.
For the last three weeks, Booker has been named the Southeastern Conference freshman of the week – the fifth player in the history of the award to win it three straight weeks. He’s averaging 10.8 points a game (second on the team, behind Harrison).
And in effective field goal percentage (where numbers are adjusted to account for a three-pointer being worth more than other field goals), Booker is 26th in the country at 65.6 percent.
The list could go on: Booker has led the team in scoring in seven games, more than any of his teammates. And from long range in his last nine games, he’s made 22 of his last 33.
“I think me going on this little streak opened it up,” Booker said after Kentucky’s win at South Carolina this weekend. “Because now teams have to play closer to me, so I use that. I use a head-fake and one, two dribbles or try to get other people involved.”
As the season goes on, Booker has climbed up mock draft boards. Originally projected as a second-rounder, Booker is now making an appearance in the lottery of several mock drafts. He’s shown that he can not only shoot the ball from long range, but create his own shots off the dribble as well, which will have NBA scouts drooling over his versatility.
Booker’s .500 clip from three-point range is only bested by his overall field goal percentage of .512 (65-of-125).
Needless to say, all of that is pretty good.
And while fans and media can debate for hours whether Booker will stay at Kentucky or declare for the draft at the end of the season, it’s important, too, to recognize talent and enjoy it while it’s around.
Booker is bound to hit a cold streak at some point this season (surely, right?). And his percentages could drop. But at the rate he’s going now, Booker will become Calipari’s best-shooting guard that he’s had at Kentucky. And that’s pretty special to watch.
Ashley Scoby is a senior journalism major at the University of Kentucky and a sports writer for KyForward.com. She has reported on the Wildcats for wildcathoops.com, vaughtsviews.com and kysportsreport.com as well as for newspapers in Danville and Glasgow. She will join Sports Illustrated magazine as a summer intern in June.
Courtesy of KyForward