Trevor Booker hoping to play against cousin Jordan Hill of Houston
Trevor Booker said he knows that it probably won't be anything like those intense, one-on-one backyard battles, when he and his cousin, Jordan Hill, would go at each other for several hours "until we both got tired." But with the Houston Rockets in town today, the Wizards rookie is hoping for any opportunity to share the floor with Hill again.
"I haven't been against him since high school, in the summer time," Booker said about the Rockets' 6-foot-10 second-year forward. "So it's been a while."
Booker and Hill have a special relationship that developed largely because of Hill's personal tragedy. Hill lost his mother, Carol, to breast cancer when he was just 3. Hill was left under the custody of his father, a truck driver, which led to being bounced around six different caregivers. Booker's mother, Tracey, and Carol were the only girls of seven siblings. So while Hill traveled around South Carolina, Ohio and Georgia, the one solid thing he could depend on were his summers in rural Whitmire, S.C., with the Bookers.
Hill was only four months older than Booker, so they almost immediately connected over games of baseball, basketball and kickball. "They grew up like brothers," Tracey Booker said. "The distance came when they went to college and neither one of them could come home at the same time. It got to the point where they hardly ever saw each other but they kept in touch."
Booker always had a passion for basketball, but Hill didn't begin playing AAU basketball until the summer before his senior year in high school. He later earned a scholarship offer from Arizona before eventually beating Booker to the NBA as he went eighth overall to the New York Knicks in 2009.
"It's not weird," Booker said, when asked if it was strange to see Hill beat him to the NBA when Booker introduced him to the game. "He had a lot of potential, and he's 6-10. Finally, when he got into it, started playing AAU and it was like a calling."
Booker was unable to attend the draft to support Hill because he was in Serbia playing at the World University games. His mother, though, was there in New York with Hill. "I knew I had to stand in for her because that's my sister. So no, it wasn't a tough choice to make," Tracey Booker said. "We really didn't see that coming with him until probably his sophomore year at Arizona, because he didn't play high school ball. it was probably more a dream for Trevor than it was for his cousin. It all took us by surprise when Jordan went. We were just as proud of him as we are of Trevor."
Hill has already been through a lot, getting traded from New York to Houston at the deadline last season. But he is starting to come on for the Rockets, scoring a season-high 14 points with 6 rebounds as Houston won its first game of the season, 120-94, against Minnesota on Sunday. He's averaging 6.3 points and 4.8 rebounds in five games this season. "He's doing pretty good right now, so if I get to go against him, I'm sure my family would be proud," Booker said.
Booker has played sparingly for the Wizards, getting just five minutes in the past four games, including two DNP-Coach's Decisions, after scoring six points with two rebounds in 10 minutes in the season opener.
"I think I've adjusted pretty good," he said. "Just got to stay focused, keep working hard and hopefully work my way onto the court."
As for those backyard battles with Hill, Booker said he "definitely" had the upper hand in most of them. Booker said that they would have dunk contests in which they would go back-and-forth dunking on each other. When asked how he prevailed when he gave up three inches in height, Booker smiled and said, "I got bounce."
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