Jeff Hornacek Impressed With Devin Booker’s Maturity

Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Devin Booker (Kentucky) greets NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number thirteen overall pick to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Devin Booker (Kentucky) greets NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number thirteen overall pick to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Phoenix- Devin Booker brings many strengths to the Phoenix Suns, who drafted him with the 13th overall pick of the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

The University of Kentucky guard brings an elite shooting stroke with NBA range. He brings size for his position and is intelligent on both ends of the floor.

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What had Suns coach Jeff Hornacek raving the most about his newly drafted player was the maturity of his newly drafted 18-year-old-guard.

“When you look at a kid that is 18-years-old you have to wonder is he really ready for this,” Hornacek said after the selection of Booker. “When you talk to Devin and do all the psychology testing that they do, when you talk to him you realize he is a very mature 18-year-old.”

Booker’s basketball background as a child may have something to do with his high-level maturity.

Growing up, the 6-foot-6 guard looked up to his father Melvin Booker who played professionally around the world. Booker’s father was the 1994 Big Eight Player of the Year at Missouri when he led the Tigers to the Elite Eight. Melvin then went on to play 32 games in the NBA before having a long career overseas.

“He had a big impact,” Booker told Suns media via conference call. “I actually grew up in Michigan with my mom while my father played overseas, so I didn’t see him much growing up, but just knowing he is a professional basketball player gives you that drive.

“When I visited him over the summer and saw what things basketball can do for you, and how far it can take you in life it showed me a lot. I was really blessed to have him as my father in my life.”

Spending summers overseas gave the Suns new draft pick a chance to be around the game and other professional players, which helped him learn at a quicker pace than others.

Booker moved from Michigan to Mississippi for high school to live and train with his dad while attending Moss Point. The guard averaged 30.9 points per game as a senior and finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

The McDonalds All-American spent one season at Kentucky, where he earned Second Team All-SEC and SEC Sixth Man of the Year. He also earned SEC Freshman Player of the Week a league-high five times, including a stretch of four consecutive weeks.

Hornacek pointed out that his ability to make the right play and know the situation will help him to have continued success at the professional level.

“At 18-years-old there are things he can obviously grow into,” Hornacek said. “Anytime you are a shooter you will have guys trying to run you off the line. He will be able to penetrate, smart player and knows how to play.

“He will make extra passes, get into the lane. He knows when guys are on his hip and he will take a dribble and get into the lane. You watch tape and he has the ability to avoid guys and get a shot off, and other times he made the extra pass. He is not just all about scoring, and is trying to make the right plays and that’s a sign he will be a good professional.”

Booker had to take a backseat on a loaded Kentucky team that won its first 38 games before falling to Wisconsin in the Final Four. He averaged 10 points a night on 47% field goal shooting while playing in a moderately low 21 minutes per game off the bench. .

Even after his lottery selection and having the label of being the best shooter in the draft, Booker remained humbled when talking about his supposed strength of shooting a basketball.

“I would be lying if I said I only had to work on one or two things, I still have to work on my shooting,” Booker said. “I am really excited to start on this next journey.”

Again, it is the maturity that impressed Booker’s new coach, as he noted that Booker did everything that he was told to help out his college team. By playing the game the right way, Booker was able to shoot a higher percentage from the field.

“He didn’t try to force things or do too much,” Hornacek said. “He did what the coaches asked and consequently he shot a high percentage. You cant shoot from the 40’s if you take bad shots and that’s a sign he knows how to play.”

What makes Booker’s  high shooting percentage impressive is the fact he played on such a talented team. Kentucky’s deep team made constant substitutions, which could in effect hurt a shooter like Booker, who needs to get into a rhythm to knock down shots.

Obviously that didn’t hurt Booker at all as he shot 41.1% from behind that arch which includes a 7-game stretch of hitting 20 of 28 from deep.

“He has a heck of a stroke,” Hornacek raved. “It’s great when you have a guy that can shoot the ball because then you can teach him other stuff. He’s not a guy we need to break down and he spends all summer getting the proper form. He has it all right there and is a solid shooter.”

Besides his strong shooting ability, Booker’s maturity and basketball IQ is highly thought of, and that is a welcoming addition to a team that struggled in both those categories last season.

Next: Phoenix Suns 2015 NBA Draft Grade: Devin Booker

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