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June 15, 2012Under NCAA recruiting rules, Division I basketball coaches are allowed to extend verbal scholarship offers to players entering their junior years beginning Friday morning.
And the top recruits in the country, including Moss Point (Miss.) High School shooting guard Devin Booker, are expecting a busy day filled with contact from big-name coaches.
"I'm not sure who all will offer, but I'm sure there will be a lot of calls tomorrow," said Melvin Booker, Booker's father, in a phone interview Thursday night.
"It makes me a proud father, to sit back and watch my son have the success he's having. I know the things he wants to do, and he works so hard to get to this point. To watch it all transpire, it's amazing, to me."
Melvin said Booker is expecting to hear from most of the SEC - including Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU. Also, Missouri, where Melvin played and won 1994 Big Eight Player Of The Year honors, Georgetown and, of course, Michigan. TheWolverine.com has confirmed that Booker received an offer from Michigan this morning.
Booker is a four-star prospect, ranked the No. 31 recruit nationally by Rivals.com.
And although the attention - and the recruiting hype - surrounding Booker has steadily risen as he has continued to progress, the shooting guard is taking it all in stride.
"Devin is the kind of kid who doesn't get too high or to low," Melvin said. "He's really even-keeled. If you ask him about it, it's like he's not even being recruited, because he's taking it all in stride.
"He's just cool and calm, just like he is on the floor. He doesn't show much emotion - he just goes out and takes care of business."
Along the way, Melvin is guiding Booker through the recruiting process, all while making sure Booker knows he has the autonomy to make his own decision.
Melvin has been through this before - and his advice has been helpful.
"I tell him to enjoy the process," Melvin said. "Not every kid gets this opportunity. He's blessed, so he has to enjoy the situation. But he's going to make his own decision."
So far, Booker has played his cards close to the chest, in terms of naming favorites.
"Devin is wide open right now," Melvin said. "Devin and I haven't really talked about the situation yet. Just hear them out as they come, and once we feel like all the schools have made their pitch, we'll sit down and talk through it."
But one program stands out as one that identified Booker as a potential serious talent before anyone else and has consistently recruited him with the most persistence: Michigan.
"I probably talk to the Michigan coaches the most," Booker's high school coach Micoe Cotton told the Wolverine in early June. "I get phone calls about him from a lot of schools, but I've gotten more calls from Michigan than any other school. And it feels good - I'm not going to lie - to get a phone call from the head coach, John Beilein. That is really nice."
The Wolverines are making an impact on the youngster. And Melvin has taken notice.
"Devin and the coaching staff at Michigan have a great relationship, especially him and [assistant coach] Bacari Alexander," Melvin said. "They've been talking for a while now, and everything is going pretty good.
"I'm not sure how often they take. But Bacari has a great personality. He's a great guy, and he's done a great job of recruiting Devin. Devin is really comfortable with him. That's what makes it such a good relationship."
Missouri, Melvin's alma mater, is another program to keep in mind, as Booker's recruitment progresses.
"He didn't grow up a Tigers fan, but he has that love for the Mizzou Tigers," Melvin said. "I've been putting it in his head since he was a little boy. And, of course, we've been back to the school a lot.
"Devin works extremely hard. For him to be Moss Point's best player, he's also the hardest worker. Before practice and after practice, he and I get some individual work in - just rounding out all aspects of him game - and from there, we go to the weight room, so he can get stronger and everything. He enjoys the process of getting better. When he sees the success on the floor, it makes him want it even more.
"Devin's strength is his IQ for the game is amazing. He thinks about the game like an NBA veteran. He shoots the ball extremely well, too. He needs to work on his ballhandling and his defense. He plays extremely hard on defense, but there are a few things he needs to work on."