Most, if not all, NBA fans know who Devin Booker is. Booker has been a 2x All-Star, was selected to the All-Rookie First Team (2016), won a three-point contest (2016) and Gold at the 2020 Olympics, and is the youngest player to record 70 points in one game! However, did you know that Booker's dad, Melvin Booker, also played in the NBA?
Melvin Booker was a 6'1" Point Guard that entered the 1994 NBA Draft. Although he went undrafted, he would still play 32 games in the NBA. Besides playing in the NBA, Booker also played in the Continental Basketball Association and various European basketball leagues.
Interestingly, the father-son duo, Melvin and Devin Booker, have played against Kobe Bryant. The context between each matchup is extremely interesting. Melvin only played one game against Kobe, and it was on April 8th, 1997, Kobe's first season in the NBA. On the other hand, although Devin played against the Lakers four times, he would also only play one game against Kobe on March 23rd, 2016, and this happened to be Kobe's last season in the NBA.
The Missouri Tigers (1990-94)
Melvin Booker joined the Missouri Tigers (University of Missouri) in the 1990-91 NCAA season. Booker was immediately assigned an important role, starting as the team's point guard. Even though Booker only averaged 8/2/4 (points, rebounds, assists) while shooting 43.4% from the field and 34.5% from the three-point line, the rest of the guards combined didn't even score as many points as Booker:
Reggie Smith: 2.4 Points
Jed Frost: 2.1 Points
Lamont Fraizer: 1.7 Points
John Burns: 0.9 Points
Booker played alongside other future NBA players, Doug Smith and Anthony Peeler, during his freshman season. Although Smith was the best player amongst the three, Peeler had the best NBA career, playing 12 seasons in the NBA.
Although the Tigers would go 20-10 (66.7 W/L%), ranking fourth in the Big Eight Conference, they would win the Conference Tournament. In the second round, the Tigers would upset the first-seeded Oklahoma State, winning in 2OT, 94-92. In the third (and final) round, they would beat the second-stated Nebraska State, 90-82. Unfortunately, since the Tigers were fourth, they couldn't participate in the NCAA Tournament.
Booker would have a slight improvement in the following season (1991-92). He averaged 12/4/4 while shooting 47.5% from the field and a career-high 43.5% from the three-point line. In addition, Booker also averaged a steal, and his free-throw percentage went from 67.1% to 76.8%. His improvement is no surprise since he got an additional five minutes of playing time in his sophomore season.
As for the Tigers, they would improve my one game, 21-9 (57.1 W/L%), and would finish as the third seed in the Big Eight Conference. They did not win the Conference Tournament this season but were selected to the NCAA Tournament. However, the Tigers would fall in the second round against the Seton Hall Pirates, 71-88.
Melvin Booker underperformed in the NCAA Tournament. Every single statistical category was lower than his regular-season stats. In the two games he played, he averaged:
8.5 Points, 3.5 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 0.5 Steals
45.5 FG%, 28.6 3P%, 83.3 FT%
Booker would improve again in his third season (1992-93). He averaged around the same number of assists, rebounds, and steals, but his points went up to 16. His field-goal shooting went down o 43.9%, and his three-point shooting went to 36.2%. The only shooting stat that went up was his free-throw, 81.7%.
Peeler would leave the Tigers after the 1991-92 NCAA season and be picked by the Los Angeles Lakers as the 15th pick. With Peeler gone, that made Booker the best player on the team. It seemed like Jevon Crudup would be the team's best player, averaging 15 points in the previous season, but he took a step down, only averaging 13 points in the 1992-93 NCAA season.
The Tigers did not perform as well as in the two previous seasons. They went 19-14 (57.6 W/L%) and were the seventh seed in the conference (second to last). Even as the second to last team in the conference, the Tigers and Melvin Booker would win their second Conference Tournament. They would upset the first, second, and third seed:
Oklahoma State (2nd): 81-62
Iowa State (3rd): 67-63
Kansas State (1st): 68-56
As a result, the Tigers would make it to the NCAA Tournament. However, they would immediately lose to the Temple Owls, 61-75. Booker played badly in this game. In 31 minutes, he ended up with 13/6/2 but shot 5/13 from the field (38.5%). He also had seven turnovers. On the bright side, Booker was selected to the First Team All-Big Eight at the end of the season.
Melvin Booker's last season (1993-94) was undoubtedly his best season. He would be selected to the First Team All-Big Eight again and was also selected to the Consensus Second-Team All-American alongside players like Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, and Jalen Rose. Finally, he would also be named Big Eight Player of the Year!
Booker was definitely the team's best player and would carry the Tigers to a 28-4 (87.5 W/L%) record. Their best record while Booker was there. In addition, the team would not lose a single game to another Big Eight Conference team (14-0). In the regular season, he averaged:
18.1 Points, 3.8 Rebounds, 4.5 Assists, 1.3 Steals, and 0.1 Blocks
50.4 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 82.3 FT%
Despite not winning the Conference Tournament, this was the furthest the Tigers have gone in the NCAA Tournament with Booker. They went all the way to the Regional Finals, being one of the Sweet 16 teams. Unfortunately, they would lose to Arizona, 72-92. In the four NCAA games that Booker played, he averaged:
22.5 Points, 4.8 Rebounds, 6.5 Assists, 1.5 Steals
58.0 FG%, 45.5 3P%, 91.7 FT%
Easy to say, he stepped it up big time during the 1993-94 NCAA Tournament. Surprisingly, Booker's best game was in the second round against the Wisconsin Badgers, where he only played 29 minutes. He ended putting up 35/3/7 and a steal while shooting 78.6% from the field (11/14), 75.0% from the three (6/8), and 100.0% from the free-throw line (7/7).
Five years later (1999), Booker would be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the University of Missouri.
Continental Basketball Association (1994-96)
Even with all the accolades, he accumulated while at the University of Missouri, Melvin Booker was not selected by an NBA team in the 1994 NBA Draft. Instead, from 1994-96, Booker would play for three CBA teams, the Hartford Hellcats, Pittsburgh Piranhas, and the Grand Rapid Mackers. In the 1994-95 CBA season, Booker would play 22 games for the Hellcats and 11 games for the Piranhas.
Booker's start in the CBA didn't go too well. In his first 22 games, he played with the Hellcats but only received 19.8 minutes of playing time. Within that playing time, he was only able to average 6/2/2 while shooting a disappointing 27.5% from the three-point line and 71.0% from the free-throw line—his field goal shooting (41.8%).
After 22 games, Booker would head to the Piranhas, where he saw an increase in playing time. In 23.1 minutes of playing time, he went 8/2/4 on better shooting splits. His three-point percentage went up to 33% and his free-throw shooting to 79.2%. The Piranhas would go 27-29 (48.2 W/L%) but would still be the first seed in the Eastern Division.
They would make it to the Finals in the playoffs but would lose to the Yakima Sun Kings, 2-4. This was the only time Booker would play in the CBA playoffs, and he sadly barely got to play. He averaged 1.6 minutes of playing time within eight playoff games, so his stats don't even matter that much.
In the season before he went to the NBA (1995-96), Booker would play 49 games for the Grand Rapids Mackers. He did not start a single game but still played 26.6 minutes per game. He averaged 14/3/5 and a steal while shooting a career-high (in the CBA), 48.6% from the field, and 45.3% from the three-point line.
Even though he underperformed in his first season in the CBA, the Houston Rockets would sign Melvin Booker.
Melvin Booker would only play 11 games with the Houston Rockets (1995-96). He was pretty horrible, shooting 32.0% from the field and 15.8% from the three-point line. Of the 11 games, his best game was on March 23rd, 1996, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He would put up 9/0/4 and a steal while shooting 50.0% from the field and 80.0% from the free-throw line.
After those eleven games with the Rockets, Booker would sign a contract with the Denver Nuggets (1996-97). His time with the Nuggets was irrelevant, only playing five games and averaging 4.2 minutes per game. Booker had more turnovers (1.4) than points (1.0). The Nuggets would waive Booker after 16 days.
Booker would head back to the CBA and play 44 games with the Grand Rapids Hoops. He would start 32/44 games and play 36.8 minutes a game. He averaged 17/5/6 and a steal while shooting 46.6% from the field and a career-high (in the CBA) 85.7% from the free-throw line.
The Hoops would end up going 32-24 (57.1 W/L%) and would have probably won the Finals if Booker played, considering that he was the Hoops' second-best player. However, the Golden State Warriors would snag Booker once the CBA playoffs started.
Booker would play 16 games with the Golden State Warriors while averaging 25.6 minutes. He played pretty well based on his standards, but within 25.6 minutes, it wasn't the best stat-line. He averaged 7/2/3 while shooting 43.6% from the field, 31.4% from the three-point line, and 90.0% from the free-throw line. Booker got to start 4/16 games, too, since 2/3 of the Warriors' point guards (B.J. Armstrong and Bimbo Coles) were injured.
His best game with the Warriors was probably his last game with them. It was on April 19th, 1997, against the Sacramento Kings. They lost, 120-22, and Booker put up:
14 Points, 3 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 1 Steal
6/12 FG, 0/4 3P, 2/2 FT
Yes, even though he went 0/4 from the three-point line, this was probably his best game. He had another game where he scored 16 points, but that was in 42 minutes, and he shot 43.9% from the field.
After his four seasons in the CBA and NBA, Melvin Booker would play in various European leagues from 1998-2008! His best season in Europe was in 1998-99 with the Sony Milano. He averaged:
17.8 Points, 3.8 Rebounds, 2.1 Assists, 2.5 Steals, and 0.2 Blocks
48.1 FG%, 40.3 3P%, 86.7 FT%