Going into the new season, Trevor Booker was a borderline first round pick with an expanding skill set. Booker and Clemson went into the year with high expectations and a challenging schedule to match. Despite assuming a greater load of the offense and adding new aspects to his game, Booker may not be having quite the type of season that scouts expected, as his numbers have stagnated or regressed in many key areas. His shooting efficiency inside and outside the arc, free throw percentages and rebounding have fallen off quite a bit, while his assist numbers have risen as opposing teams have made it a point to try and shut him down. Now, as Clemson sits 18-7, firmly on the NCAA bubble, Booker must continue to take advantage of any opportunity to improve upon what has been an up-and-down senior season.
Booker is just 67, but he has excellent length and strength, which suggests that his transition to the next level should be smoother than expected from undersized post players. Similarly, his explosiveness and quickness in the open floor will help him overcome his lack of size at the next level. Though undersized big men have done well in the NBA lately, and Bookers athleticism helps his case significantly, but he still must prove to scouts he has what it takes to operate as a power forward at the next level.
Bookers offense this season reveals considerable questions, impressive improvement and yet untapped potential. According to Synergy Sports Technology, 35% of Bookers offense comes on post up plays, something that is probably not all that likely to translate over to the NBA. Though his post repertoire is still limited to more basic moves with few countermoves and his touch is somewhat suspect, he continues to get to the rim by utilizing his athleticism, strength, and improving ball-handling abilities.
Also of note is how he has cut down on his turnover rate impressively, passing out of the post very well when he encounters double teams. His slow, but continued improvement throughout his four years at Clemson, combined with his toughness, suggests that he can continue to improve, though his ability to score against bigger and more athletic players at his size is still a very significant question mark.
Despite being tougher and more athletic than most post players at the collegiate level, Booker has become far more perimeter-oriented and somewhat less efficient on the offensive end. Though his 3-point shooting numbers are down to an unsightly 26.9%, his form is much improved, far more fluid and quick than in past seasons, suggesting that he could develop into a solid shooting option at the next level from inside of the NBA three point line. He also looks considerably more adept on pick and pop plays from mid-range.
Evaluating his ability to attack matchups off the dribble, he appears to have improved as well, looking eager to beat opponents with his terrific first step. Unfortunately, for as much as he has improved his ball handling abilities through the course of his career, he is still not that efficient in this area, looking overly ambitious at times, turning over the ball over in iso situations, not getting quality looks at the basket, and not drawing contact at the rim. Similarly, he does not seem to know his limits, as he lacks the offensive polish and basketball IQ at this point to be a prolific slasher at this level or in the NBA.
All things considered, though, Bookers improvements from the perimeter as a shot-creator and jump-shooter should be duly noted, despite the fact that its hurt his efficiency numbers in the process.
On the defensive end, it is much of the same for Booker, which is both good and bad. While his awareness could always stand to improve, he continues to assert himself defensively and work hard whether he is playing inside or outside.
Despite his outstanding athleticism, which allows him to impact the defense in a variety of ways, his lack of height is still concerning, as he continues to have trouble guarding bigger and more athletic players inside and out. Most troubling, however, is his decreased rebounding numbers, and though he stills grabs 10.4 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, he must continue to work hard on the boards and use his athleticism and fundamentals to beat bigger players to the ballsomething that will be more difficult in the NBA. While his effort-level or toughness will never be questioned, his lack of size continues to be a significant question mark that complicates his draft position.
This season has been a telling one for Booker. He has improved in some areas while stagnating in others. He has improved his scoring numbers, but has struggled for stretches against inferior competition. Nonetheless, he is an interesting prospect, certainly a player with the potential to play in the NBA.
Though his size definitely is an obstacle that he must overcome and he must figure out how to adept accordingly in the post on both ends of the floor, players with Bookers aggressiveness and athleticism have found success at the next level, often in a huge way. Scouts will be watching to see if Booker can put Clemson on his shoulders in the final stages of his college career and prove that he has what it takes to win games.