Trevor Booker is a "Grown-Ass Man"
Wizards scouts already have a nickname for Trevor Booker, the first-round pick out of Clemson whom the team traded for on draft night. "Grown-Ass Man."
"I guess because I'm just so tough out there on the court," said Booker, who is aware of the nickname. "Especially since I came to college, everybody's been telling me I'm so tough and aggressive. Maybe I get it from my dad; he's aggressive."
Booker's father is a corrections worker and former football player who wanted his son to play that sport. Booker had no interest in football; "it was too hot during the summertime, I was gonna have a heat stroke out there," he joked.
Instead, he played basketball and baseball. He said he liked the sports equally -- he was a left-handed power pitcher in baseball who made all-star teams and played on a travel team -- but when he was 14 his left shoulder started aching. Doctors couldn't find anything wrong, but Booker had no interest in playing baseball if he couldn't pitch, so he concentrated on basketball full-time.
("I still miss it," he said of baseball. "I want to pitch now, but I can't find anybody to catch." I suggested JaVale McGee. Classic catcher's build.)
I'll have a bit more on Booker for Friday's print edition, but it's probably worth mentioning yet again what an incredible performance he delivered at the pre-draft combine in Chicago, where 41 players went through the full litany of athletic tests. Booker had been training two or three times a week for several months with Lilian Abdelmalek of DSA Training in Atlanta. She had worked with him on both his running form and his explosiveness; he spent weeks sprinting while pulling two 45-pound plates on a sled behind him.
When he arrived in Chicago, he blew up the numbers. (See the full spreadsheet here.) His 3.10-second three-quarters court dash was tops in the combine, just ahead of John Wall's 3.14. He bench-pressed 185 pounds 22 times, behind only Luke Harangody. His vertical leap was 36 inches, tied for ninth (Wall was second), and his performance in the agility drill also tied for ninth (Wall was first). The San Antonio Spurs told Booker that in their overall athletic calculation coming out of the combine, he ranked first.
I asked the 6-7, 240-pound Booker whether he's yet challenged Wall to a foot race.
"I mean, he needs to challenge me," Booker said. "I'm the champion right now."
And I asked him about his role this season.
"They just want me to be tough, aggressive, bring a lot of energy and bring some character to the team," he said. "Players are brought into the league for different things, and I know my role, so that's what I'm gonna do."
(See more great Summer League photos at Truth About It. There are some real gems there. See two of Booker's Summer League dunks below.)
July 15, 2010; 4:48 PM ET
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