CLEMSON — Everyone in the arena saw the alley-oop. Everyone saw the 50-foot pass Devin Booker caught from Rod Hall, the halfcourt lob the Clemson forward finished with a dunk at N.C. State. The play was the highlight from Clemson’s near-miss in Raleigh on Sunday.
But not everyone noticed Booker’s important, though seemingly innocuous, movement on two other occasions when he also beat his man down the court in transition, won position near the basket, and was rewarded with an entry pass he finished with a score.
Three of the Booker’s 13 field goals against the Wolfpack came in transition en route to a career-high 27 points.
Booker has been a different player early in ACC play. He’s averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game in conference play. He outworked Duke’s highly touted Mason Plumlee earlier this month at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and the transition scoring is evidence Booker is working like he’s never worked before, said Clemson coach Brad Brownell.
“If he’s going to have a big game, like he did against N.C. State, he’s going to have to create offense on his own,” Brownell said. “He got some scoring on (called plays), but to get that kind of outcome you have to do some things on your own and that was good to see. He worked it.”
For the last two seasons, Brownell has lamented the lack of a go-to scorer who can consistently produce 15-plus points per game. The 6-8, 250-pound senior might be becoming that guy, filling a critical need for a Clemson team in search of offense.
“He’s played as well as any post player in the conference,” Brownell said. “It’s nice to see him do it consistently. It speaks to how well he is playing.”
What has clicked for Booker?
His game has become more complete, he’s more comfortable playing with has back to the basket. And he is playing with a sense of urgency, knowing his college career is winding down.
“I know I don’t have many games left,” Booker said. “I’m just trying to make the best of it.”