BP ARCHIVE: One-on-one with Phoenix shooting guard Devin Booker

In 2016 interview, current Finals star describes his rookie year, when he was the youngest player in the league.

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BP Archive Issue 5 2016

Devin Booker had an email interview in 2016 with the Boiling Point’s Jordan Fields.

By Jordan Fields, Staff Writer

Editors Note: In the spring of 2016, then-BP staff writer Jordan Fields interviewed then-rookie Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns over email. At the time, Booker was the youngest player in the NBA and had only completed one season, but he’d already made a big impact on the NBA. Jordan’s story was published on the back page of the June print edition of that year’s Boiling Point.

Now, Booker is a starting — and star — shooting guard for the Phoenix Suns, who are hoping to win their third straight game of the NBA Finals over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

 

Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker is the youngest player in the NBA – at 19, he is less than a year older than some Shalhevet graduates. 

His rise was fast. At 17, Booker committed to the University of Kentucky, one of the nation’s most prestigious college basketball schools.  ESPN ranked him as a five-star recruit, the highest a college player can be. And in his first and only season there, he earned the award of SEC sixth man of the year. 

He was then selected as the 13th overall pick by the Suns in the 2015 draft, and promoted to the starting lineup after his predecessor, Brandon Knight, was injured. Booker went on to score 23 points and hit five three-point shots in the Rising Stars Challenge game during All Star Weekend.

After only one season in the NBA, the league’s youngest star is already making a big impact in the NBA. Staff writer Jordan Fields contacted Booker via email.

BP: What’s the biggest difference between college basketball and pro basketball?

Playing basketball is my job now and I’m able to dedicate all of my time to getting better.”

— Devin Booker, Shooting Guard, Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker: The biggest difference between the college and playing professionally is that everything is basketball-focused. Playing basketball is my job now and I’m able to dedicate all of my time to getting better.

BP: What has surprised you the most about the NBA? 

Devin Booker: The adjustment to the pace of the NBA game was the most surprising to me. The shot clock going from 30 seconds in college to 24 seconds in the NBA speeds things up a ton.

BP:  Did you have a chance to play against any of your idols this year?  If so, who are they, and what was the experience like?

Devin Booker: Playing against Kobe was a surreal experience; to go up against him in his final season means everything, as I grew up idolizing him. Similarly, playing against Dwyane Wade, one of the best two guards of all time, was amazing. 

BP: What was it like being the youngest NBA player last season?

Devin Booker: Being the youngest player in the NBA wasn’t something that I focused on too much because I see myself on the vets’ level. The only time it was a factor was when I was working to prove that age is only a number.

BP: What makes you optimistic about the Suns’ chances next season?

Devin Booker: We dealt with a lot of injuries and change this past year, but next year, we will come back with a fresh perspective, hungry and ready to compete.

BP: What do you like most about being a NBA player?

Devin Booker: The thing I like most is playing the game that I love every single day and to call that my job.

If there is an opportunity and I am able to work out at Shalhevet, I would try and make that happen.”

— Devin Booker, Shooting Guard, Phoenix Suns

BP: What is the hardest part about being a NBA player?

Devin Booker: The travel is the hardest part, not being settled anywhere during the season. You are always on the road and constantly away from friends and family, so that is an adjustment for sure.

BP: Did you have a welcome-to-the-NBA moment, when you realized you were now playing in the NBA, what was that moment?

Devin Booker: It was the first time I got into the game, it was against Dallas, and it was an unreal moment that I will never forget. 

BP: You left Kentucky after one year.  What do you think of the rule that a player must play one year of college basketball before entering the NBA?

Devin Booker: I think that the rule is positive, and that if guys are ready to go to the NBA after one year, then they should make the move to go pro. Going to Kentucky gave me the ability to gauge if I was actually ready to take the next step to the NBA or not.

BP: Last summer Blake Griffin and Seth Curry used our gym to practice before training camp opened.  Any interest in coming to Shalhevet to work out?

Devin Booker: Of course, if there is an opportunity and I am able to work out at Shalhevet, I would try and make that happen.