Devin Booker: “EuroLeague players shouldn’t play in the domestic leagues”

01/May/20 12:52 May 1, 2020

Dionysis Aravantinos

01/May/20 12:52

Khimki’s breakout star, Devin Booker talked to Eurohoops about his impressive year in EuroLeague, his future plans, his experience playing basketball in France, Germany, and Russia, while he also answered some rapid-fire questions.

By Dionysis Aravantinos / @AravantinosD

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Booker is currently back home in the States. Eurohoops had a chance to talk to him and have a conversation about his entire career in Europe, his future plans, growing up with his brother and former NBAer, Trevor Booker, as well as asking him some rapid-fire questions.

Coronavirus pandemic

Just like everyone else, Booker is currently in isolation along with his family: “At the moment I’m trying to stay isolated. Stay home as much as possible. I only go out when I really have to, for some shopping or anything else that I need. They’re starting to open up more businesses now but they’re still cautious with it.”

Since EuroLeague indefinitely suspended the season, many players haven’t been able to practice with a basketball. Anadolu Efes‘ superstar, Shane Larkin admitted to Eurohoops that he hasn’t touched a basketball in more than three weeks, while NBA star Jayson Tatum also mentioned that he hasn’t been able to practice with a basketball since the NBA’s last game. In general, players’ daily schedules look entirely different nowadays. “My daily schedule kind of varies from day-to-day. I don’t have a set schedule I follow every day,” mentions Booker. “Most of the days, I get up in the morning, help my daughter with her homework; still doing schoolwork on her iPad. Usually, after that, I try to get a workout in, and then I spend time with all my kids and get everything else done around the house. I’ve been staying in shape, but it’s not going to be the same one I get back on the court. I don’t think anything that you do off the court is going to match up to the same intensity that you do on the court. It’s definitely going to be different. As far as basketball, the only thing I can do right now is getting in dribbling workouts. I haven’t been able to go to any gyms, and get any practice in. So right now, it’s just dribbling workouts and that’s it.”

Trevor Booker’s impact

And while everyone is patiently waiting for EuroLeague’s decision regarding the future of the season, Devin Booker took us back throughout his career, starting with his childhood days at South Carolina, growing up with three brothers, including former NBAer, Trevor Booker:  “Growing up we were into everything. Me with my three brothers, Trevor, Darrion, and Jarred, we were always outside. We were playing football, basketball, baseball, kickball, tag, hide and seek, fishing, taking a four-wheeler on trails to the woods. We were really outdoor kids, I’ll tell you that. I really miss those days. We definitely played one-on-one down the street. That’s what got us tough and allowed us to be physical like we are today.”

Trevor was and still is like a mentor for Devin. He’s four years older than him, and so Devin always seeks advice from him: “Trevor and I are very close, as I am with all of my brothers. We are all pretty close. Trevor has given me a lot of advice over the years. I’ve always looked up to him. He’s my oldest brother, and he’s like a mentor to me. I looked up to everything he did and I started that from a young age. He never fails. He gives it all on the court, and he’s motivating me every day. I kind of try to follow in his footsteps. Of course, he recently retired and it kind of took an impact on me. I told him that I won’t let it get me down, and it’ll just motivate me on going even harder.”

For one year in high school and one year in college, Devin and Trevor were teammates in the same basketball team. “It was awesome playing with him at Clemson for one year,” Devin recalls. “The first time playing with him was in high school for one year. That was even better cause he was a beast. He’s just had an all-around great career, and I mean who else to look up to other than someone like that?”

NBA Draft / First professional contract in Europe

In 2013, after his senior year at Clemson University, Devin Booker declared for the NBA Draft but went undrafted. At that time, his options were limited.  “Honestly I didn’t know what I was going to do after the draft. It was a lot going through my mind at the time. I talked to my agent and we came up with the best solution, which was to go to France, and that’s when my career started.”

In his first go-around in Europe, Booker signed a deal with French team, Nancy. “Once I first arrived in France, that’s when reality set in,” he says. “I was in another country, and it kind of took a toll on me. I became home-sick right away and wanted to come back home. I didn’t do much research to the place I was going to. I didn’t know anything about going to another country. I was going with the flow; that’s usually what I also do when I’m in the States, so I figured to just go with the flow but reality set in once I finally arrived and realized I was over there by myself. It was definitely difficult at first. It took some time to get adjusted, but I had a lot of guys in my first team in Nancy that helped me get situated with the overseas life, and I’m forever thankful for them.”

Basketball-wise, his first year in Nancy didn’t go according to plan. “The coach and I didn’t see eye-to-eye,” he recalls. “I wasn’t getting much playing time, but I was there working hard every day. So, I talked to my agent and we figured that the best thing to do is move on to another team. We came to an agreement with that club (Nancy) and they let me leave.”

And so, Booker moved from Nancy to a Pro B (second division) team at the time, JL Bourg. “When I got there, we won the championship and moved up to Pro A (first division). That’s when my career started. It didn’t really start in Nancy. I got nothing against the team. I just don’t feel like it started there. It started in Bourg-en-Bresse (JL Bourgh). They were the ones who actually gave me a chance to showcase my talent. I’m grateful for the fact that they allowed me to play the game of basketball, the way I know-how. I had a pretty good time at Bourg-en-Bresse, and after that, I went to Chalon. Chalon was another great team that allowed me to showcase my talent, and I ended up winning the MVP award there. All around my experience in France was pretty good for me.”