Hoops notes: Five-star guard visits Bama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Growing up in Grands Rapids, Mich., Devin Booker probably never imagined he’d be competing in a skills camp at the University of Alabama. But when the 2014 prospect moved to Mississippi last summer, it opened the door for the Crimson Tide.

On Saturday, he was in Tuscaloosa for camp.

“The camp went really well,” Booker said. “I got up here a little bit late, but everything went good. It was my first time being up in Alabama, and so far, I like what the coaches are doing.”

Booker had become familiar with the UA coaching staff, but this was the first time he had met them in person. He also knew a lot of the other players at the camp from playing with the Alabama Challenge on the AAU circuit this summer.

“I’ve always talked to the coaches on the phone a lot, so I knew they were going to be cool,” Booker said. “That’s what I expected, so that was good. And I just like the way Coach [Anthony] Grant was coaching on the court.

“I was running the one, and he was just telling me to control my team, slow it down and get them in the offense.”

At 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, Booker is a natural fit at shooting guard, but he has the ability to play either guard spot at the next level.

The five-star has a visit set up to Mississippi State on Sept. 1 and says he wants to come back to Alabama this fall for a football game.

2013 commitments grow close

Saturday’s camp featured mostly underclassmen, but it was hard to miss the Tide’s current 2013 commitments, Shannon Hale and Jimmie Taylor. With Hale at 6-foot-9 and Taylor at 6-foot-10, the two formed a formidable duo inside.

The two played together on the court for most the of the day, and you couldn’t separate them off the court.

“The camp was good,” Hale said. “I enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun playing beside Jimmie and all of these other guys I know. It was fun. I hung out with [Jimmie] a lot at the camp. We’re cool. I’m excited to play with him.”

Hale looked noticeably bigger at the camp and says he’s up to 215 pounds. He worked on getting better and stronger over the last year, and it showed. The UA coaching staff was happy to see their future player on campus.

“The coaches were just excited to see me and can’t wait to have me down,” Hale said. “I love it here. I can’t wait to get down.”

The Tennessee native says no other schools are still talking to him at this point.

Baker puts on a show

2014 prospect Chai Baker may not have been the most talented player at Saturday’s camp, but he was easily the most fun to watch. The 6-foot-3 wing showed off his hops throughout the day with multiple highlight-reel dunks.

For Baker, it was the second year in a row he’s competed at the Tide’s camp.

“It went good,” he said. “Most camps I go to, they do a lot of drills and then we play. This one, you go through a full practice of what college is like. That’s what I like about this camp.”

Baker claims offers from Alabama, Florida State and Georgia. The Florida native plans to narrow his list at the beginning of the upcoming season and says the Tide will definitely be one of his finalists.