LOS ANGELES – Already the owner of a 70-point game, former Kentucky men’s basketball player Devin Booker added to his already spectacular NBA career by winning the JBL Three-Point Contest on Saturday night at the Staples Center.
Booker, with the Phoenix Suns, beat some of the NBA’s best shooters with the best performance ever in the Three-Point Contest. The third-year pro scored a record 28 in the championship round to defeat the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson, considered one of the NBA’s best 3-point shooters and winner of the 2016 competition.
A member of the 2014-15 Kentucky team that went 38-0 before losing in the Final Four, Booker scored 19 in the first round to advance to the championship round. One of three finalists, Booker went second, before Thompson, and set an almost unreachable mark.
Booker is the first player from Kentucky to win the JBL Three-Point Contest. Wildcats John Wall (2010) and Kenny Walker (1983-86) won the Slam Dunk Contests in 2014 and 1989, respectively, and Karl-Anthony Towns (2015) won the Skills Challenge in 2016.
In the actual All-Star games, the Wildcats have fared just as well. Anthony Davis (2012) won the Most Valuable Player award at last year’s NBA All-Star Game after Jamal Murray (2016) took home MVP honors in the Rising Stars Challenge. Adrian “Odie” Smith (1957-58) also won the MVP award in the 1996 game.
Booker is averaging a career-best 24.2 points, 4.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. Backing up his performance in the Three-Point Contest, Booker is also averaging a career-best 2.7 treys a game while shooting a professional-best 43.0 percent from behind the arc.
Booker has scored 30 or more points in 16 of his last 38 games, and only LeBron James reached 10 30-point games this season faster than Booker. Earlier this season he became the fourth-youngest player to score 3,000 career points, behind only James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.
Last season Booker became the youngest player in NBA history to score 60 or more points in a game when he scored 70.
And to think, Booker came off the bench for the 2014-15 Wildcats. Booker won Southeastern Conference Sixth Man of the Year honors for that Kentucky team after averaging 10.0 points in 21.5 minutes per game for the Wildcats. He made 58 treys on 41.1-percent shooting from behind the arc.
Booker wasn’t the only Wildcat in action Saturday night. Murray, from the Denver Nuggets, advanced to the second round of the Skills Challenge. That was a night after the 2017 Rising Starts Challenge reigning MVP posted 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds in this year’s game. De’Aaron Fox (2017) represented the Sacramento Kings in the game as well.
The main event will be Sunday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the All-Star Game. DeMarcus Cousins (2010), Anthony Davis (2012), Towns and Wall were all picked as All-Stars. Cousins and Wall will not participate after suffering injuries since the announcement of their selections. With the four selections, Kentucky will join UCLA as the only program to have four former players in a single NBA All-Star game in the event’s history. UCLA achieved the feat in 1983 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Marques Johnson, Kiki Vandeweghe and Jamaal Wilkes on that year’s roster.
That game will tip off Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.
Former stars Terrence Jones (2011-12) and Aaron Harrison (2014-15) were selected to represent the G-League All-Stars in the NBA G League International Challenge on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET. The event which will pit G-League All-Stars against the Mexican National Team will air on NBATV.
In the All-Star Game on Sunday, Davis will make his third start in the annual NBA spectacle and fourth overall appearance after winning the game’s MVP honor in New Orleans a season ago. Towns will come off the bench to make his first-ever All-Star appearance. Cousins was also voted a starter, but suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. Wall, a reserve, opted for a knee procedure that is holding him out 6-to-8 weeks of competition.
Davis and “Team LeBron” will be coached by 1978 national champion and current head coach of the Toronto Raptors Dwane Casey.