Clemson's Booker to return next season
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Clemson star Trevor Booker said Friday he'd return for his senior season instead of entering the NBA draft -- which means he will team up with younger brother and Tiger recruit, Devin, next fall.
Booker was the Tigers' inside force this season, averaging 15.3 points and 9.7 rebounds. He finished as the first player since Wake Forest's Tim Duncan in 1996-97 to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in both field goal percentage and rebounding in the same season.
Booker was a big reason the Tigers (23-9) earned their second straight NCAA tournament appearance trip. However, Clemson lost its first tournament game to 10th-seeded Michigan, the second time in a row it fell to a higher-seeded opponent and Booker said he wanted to return for a final shot at ACC and NCAA success.
"As a team, we have a desire to go above and beyond what we've accomplished in this program thus far," Booker said.
And he'll get to try with his younger brother alongside.
Devin Booker is a 6-foot-7, 220-pound prospect from Union County High who signed with the Tigers last November. Word is, he's just as dogged underneath the basket as his older brother and Clemson coach Oliver Purnell sees some serious practice battles taking place next season
"I can imagine those two going at it at," Purnell said with a grin last fall.
Trevor said Devin was one reason he chose to come back. The elder Booker says he's also close to his degree
"I am excited to get to play with my brother and the entire recruiting class we have coming in next season," Booker said.
Trevor Booker, not generally considered an NBA first-rounder, spoke with his parents and decided an additional year of seasoning could help his pro potential.
"I feel there are a lot of areas in which I can improve," he said.
Consistency might be one.
Booker had 13 games with double figure points and rebounds. However, when Clemson's opponents locked down the middle and made it hard for the Tigers to find Booker, the forward tended to drift away from the hoop.
The Tigers opened 19-2, including an amazing 74-47 victory over Duke on March 4 when Booker had 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Clemson went 4-7 the rest of the way, including first-game losses in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
It's the second straight year Purnell's had his leading scorer return for their senior years. K.C. Rivers, a captain on this season's team, declared for the NBA draft but later decided to come back to college.
"Any time you have your best player on board with two feet and optimistic about your future, you have a chance to do big things," Purnell said.
The Tigers will lose Rivers and forward Raymond Sykes from this season's regular rotation.
And with Booker back, Clemson won't have to wonder who'll take over the middle next season.
"His optimism for next season is a plus," Purnell said. "With 10 scholarship players returning and an outstanding recruiting class coming in, I certainly share in his optimism."
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