Father and son on opposite sides of Mizzou-Kentucky
By ALEX SCHIFFER
College Contributor Network
Black, gold, and blue.
Those are the colors Melvin Booker will be wearing tonight as he returns to Columbia to watch Missouri, the school he led to the Elite Eight and for whom he was an All-American in the 1990's, play against the No. 1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats, who are led by his son, Devin.
"It's a win-win situation for me," Melvin said. "My former school playing against my son."
Last spring, Devin crushed the hearts of Tigers fans when he chose John Calipari's Wildcats over his father's alma mater. Missouri recruited the 6-foot-6 shooting guard since he was in middle school, while Calipari didn't even need a full year to convince Devin to play for Big Blue Nation.
When Devin told his father last year that he was going to Kentucky, Melvin responded by telling him that when the Wildcats came to CoMo, he'd sit with Missouri's infamous Antlers and heckle his son all game long. Melvin said that while that won't be the case tonight, he still might take some shots at his son, but all in good fun.
"I don't think I'll be sitting with the Antlers but I might boo him a little here or there," Melvin said with a laugh. "But I'll be cheering for him."
For Devin, his freshman season in Lexington has been a surprise to many, including his father. Coming off the bench in Calipari's platoon system, Devin has been named Southeastern Conference freshman of the week three times while averaging 10.8 points a game and shooting 50 percent from behind the arc. But the real surprise has been his defense.
"He's exceeded my expectations already," Melvin said. "I knew Devin was a great shooter going into college so the shooting part I wasn't surprised about. But my concerns of his adjustment to the college basketball game was on the defensive side of the ball and his defense has been so much better than it was in high school. It's incredible how he's playing defense right now."
Calipari concurs with Melvin about his son's defense.
"I never thought he'd guard this way," Calipari said earlier this week over teleconference.
When Devin originally committed to the 'Cats, he was projected as a multi-year college player with scouts saying he would need two to three years in Lexington before he'd be a solid NBA prospect. But due to his recent play, Devin has shot up team's draft boards and is currently projected as a top-15 pick by DraftExpress.com; the most respected mock draft in the country.
Tigers coach Kim Anderson coached Melvin all four years at Missouri as an assistant coach on Norm Stewart's staff and already saw Devin in action when the Cats blew out the Tigers 86-37 on Jan. 13. Anderson says while father and son play similar types of games; Devin may have the edge on his father from behind the arc.
"Melvin was awful good," Anderson said. "I think Devin at least to this point in his career is probably a better shooter. He's shooting 50 percent from the three-point line. I think Devin's still getting better. Melvin handled the ball a lot for us and was a good shooter but I don't remember him shooting 50 percent for us from three for an extended period of time."
Alex Schiffer is a sophomore journalism student at the University of Missouri and hails from Westfield, New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter: @TheSchiffMan