John Calipari reflects on Devin Booker’s path to All-Star Game

Feb 14, 2020, 12:33 PM
Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats talks to Aaron Harrison #2 and Devin Booker #1 du...
Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats talks to Aaron Harrison #2 and Devin Booker #1 during the SEC/Big 12 Challenge against the Texas Longhorns at Rupp Arena on December 5, 2014 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeated Texas 63-51. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Often times, the most formative year for future NBA players will be the first year they spend in college.

More than the Xs and Os on the court, college basketball coaches at the top level are highly regarded because of the “molders of men” they are and how they can take kids, give them good habits and make them much better players from October to March.

John Calipari got that year for Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker at Kentucky and joined 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station to look back on where the now-All-Star guard was back when he got him in 2014.

“I remember going to Moss Point, Mississippi, to see this skinny kid playing against his father, who was a hell of a player, by the way, Melvin Booker, and his friends who were overweight, big or whatever and the gym is 105 degrees and I’m sitting there saying, ‘Wow,” Calipari told Bickley & Marotta.

“Even then you could see he had so much confidence in himself. He had a swagger — based on his training, not based on delusion, which happens at times.”

You’ll remember that on that Kentucky team, a Wildcats squad that went 38-1, Booker actually came off the bench in his lone freshman season. That was always the story for Booker, who went from not playing much in national showcase games as a high school prospect to his recent All-Star snub.

“All this stuff where he didn’t think he got his due, he used it as fuel,” Calipari said. “He had a swagger based on, ‘I deserve this, this is gonna happen, no one works like me.'”

And with Calipari having an inside track on the type of relationship that Booker can have with a coach, Calipari sees nothing but good signs with what’s going on in Phoenix, despite the low win totals in Booker’s four-plus seasons.

“He will trust the process if he trusts the people involved,” he said. “And I think at this job, the job Monty (Williams) is doing and with him personally — off the charts.”

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Gold...
Sam Graveline

ESPN’s Pelton gives Phoenix Suns ‘C+’ offseason grade

Despite the Phoenix Suns being among the few teams to dominate the offseason news cycle, ESPN's Kevin Pelton gave them a C+ grade.
1 day ago
Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns throws up a shot during the second half of the NBA game at ...
Kellan Olson

Suns’ Cam Johnson to coach at Basketball Without Borders camp in Australia

Cam Johnson will be coaching some of the top prospects from the Asia-Pacific region at a Basketball Without Borders camp in Australia.
2 days ago
Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a teammate scored against the Los Angeles Lakers...
Kevin Zimmerman

Ish Wainright on Suns return, when NFL career was toast and Game 7

Ish Wainright hit on a few topics on Bickley & Marotta, including how he feels the Suns have responded to their Game 7 loss.
3 days ago
Follow @KellanOlson...
Kellan Olson

Devin Booker’s signature Phoenix Suns moves tracked for NBA 2K23

Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker will grace the cover of NBA 2K23 and the game will feature his signature moves.
4 days ago
Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game Five of the Western Conference...
Kellan Olson

Ish Wainright returns to Phoenix Suns on 2-way contract, per report

The Phoenix Suns have agreed to a two-way contract with forward Ish Wainright, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
5 days ago
Duane Washington Jr. #4 of the Indiana Pacers reacts after forcing a turnover by Trae Young #11 of ...
Jake Anderson

Phoenix Suns sign guard Duane Washington Jr. to 2-way contract

The Phoenix Suns have officially signed guard Duane Washington Jr. to a two-way contract, the team announced Wednesday.
5 days ago
John Calipari reflects on Devin Booker’s path to All-Star Game