BOCA RATON – As he restarts down the path that includes NBA aspirations, FAU guard Frank Booker hopes some tips he picked up watching some of planet’s best while recuperating from back surgery will expedite journey.
“My favorite player is Stephen Curry, but he’s not really the type of player that I am – but I do watch some of his play and how he gets open,” Booker explained. “I also watch Klay Thompson, arguably the best two-guard in the league, and he doesn’t do much; he just hits open shots with the pump fake so he can knock down shots. It’s guys like that I enjoy learning from.”
Curry and Thompson, both first-round picks of the Warriors in 2009 and 2011 respectively, made a name for themselves as the ‘Splash Brothers’ thanks to their efficiency from behind the arc.
The main thing to take away from Booker’s comments, though, is that rather than attempting to follow in the footsteps of the Splash Brothers when it comes to jacking up threes, the junior is instead looking at the little things – the things that allow Curry and Thompson to make as many threes as they do.
The Owls’ starting shooting guard, Booker realizes that, for the time being, he’s not going to have the sharpshooting accuracy of a Curry or a Ray Allen from long-range. In his first two seasons at Oklahoma, Booker made .334 of his three-point shots, though that percentage dipped from .368 in his freshman year to .303 in his sophomore season for the Sooners.
For comparison, Curry shot .408 and .439 in his first two collegiate years at Davidson, while Thompson shot .412 and .364 with Washington State.
A highly-rated high school recruit from Georgia, Booker battled both wrist and back injuries during his tenure with the Sooners. With less than one week until FAU’s season tips off, Booker says he’s finally healthy and ready to contribute for the Owls.
“This was my first back surgery, so I always tried to get healthy first and foremost and allow rehab,” said Booker, a redshirt junior. “I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in my entire life. I’m feeling great and once I got back into shape and playing form, I wanted to do more off-the-dribble stuff, more catch and shoot, more pump fakes, more floaters. It’s little stuff that will allow me to get easy baskets instead of shooting threes.”
One of FAU’s captains this year, Booker sat out the entirety of the 2015-16 season in compliance with NCAA transfer rules. Booker described his time last year in a suit at the end of the bench as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
The down time provided him plenty of time to watch Curry and Thompson, learning lessons he intends to apply when FAU opens its season on Friday in Hawaii against Texas St.
Booker’s belief, based on both early practices and the team’s summer trip to the Bahamas, is that FAU can finally start winning under third-year coach Michael Curry. The Owls have not had a winning season since 2010-11, though they did win a postseason game last year for the first time since 2008.
“At this point, we have the pieces we need, we got the coaching, and all we need to do right now is get it together to form a winning squad,” Booker said. “I feel like we really have what we need as of right now. Last year’s gone and this is a whole new group.”