Florida State basketball head coach Leonard Hamilton and his staff received some good news from a long way away on Friday.
Anchorage, Alaska point guard Devon Bookert committed to FSU over San Diego State, Oklahoma State, DePaul, Oregon State, and California among others.
Bookert is a 6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard who was the 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year in Alaska and averaged 25 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game and 3.6 steals as a senior at West Anchorage High. He already graduated high school but will attend Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada this season (2011-12) before enrolling at FSU in 2012.
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"I've been waiting to figure out which school I want to go to and been giving it a lot of thought and that was the school I wanted to go to and I thought I could achieve the most success (at FSU)," he said of his decision to pull the trigger.
With a distance of over 4,000 miles between his hometown of Anchorage and Tallahassee, Hamilton and his staff helped put Bookert's father Kevin at ease with the distance.
"I felt as a parent that I could them at two o'clock in the morning and they would find out how he was doing," the elder Bookert said of the FSU coaching staff. "I really could trust them and had a great feel about them."
After his junior year of high school Bookert didn't get the chance to play on the AAU circuit. So following his senior season, despite being the Gatorade player of year, his future was uncertain.
"I went into it and I really didn't have anything solid on the table for college," he said of this summer. "Then I started going to Impact and after a couple of the tournaments I started getting more and more colleges looking at me. Especially after the Fab 48 tournament in Las Vegas."
As he excelled on the summer circuit the offers began to pour in. San Diego St., Oklahoma State, DePaul, and Drake all offered him for 2011. But Bookert took his father's advice and decided to go to prep school and will enroll in the summer of 2012 at FSU.
"It was hard to turn down because I wanted to play right now," he said of the 2011 offers. "But I knew the best thing for me was going to prep school and developing my skills."
His father said that his family traditionally has late growth spurts so factoring that in with the fact that all other incoming freshman would have a two month head start in the weight room and the classroom.
"He realized if I wait one more year and develop my body more I could come in and really make more of an impact," Mr. Bookert said. "Lots of people said he had enough to go play this year flat out…but he would have gone into school hit the books real hard, the weights, and only have about two months where as everybody else has been there for the last two or three months."
Bookert took a visit to Tallahassee earlier this month and had an opportunity to see how things are on campus during summer school. He also got the chance to see the current team go through conditioning workouts, but his father says what most valuable to him was the opportunity to build chemistry with the coaching staff.
"I could just tell that on some of the other visits they were kind of pulling teeth to impress him," his Dad said. "I think for the way he responded to (FSU's staff) there was an immediate connection."