Phoenix selects Devin Booker with 13th overall pick in NBA Draft

Moss Point's Devin Booker became the first Coast product in 16 years to earn a lottery pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday.

The Phoenix Suns picked the former Kentucky guard with the 13th overall selection at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In Phoenix, he will join a talented backcourt already stocked with young talent from Kentucky. Former Wildcat guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are both key pieces for the Suns.

“I'm loving it, Big Blue Nation everywhere,” Booker said on ESPN. “I wouldn't want it any other way.”

Many projections had Booker being selected in the top 10 of the draft, but he dropped a handful of spots after the Charlotte Hornets passed on him at No. 9 and chose Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky instead.

Booker didn't have to wait much longer, joining a large group of Kentucky players selected on Thursday.

“I feel like at Kentucky we had a really talented team and I fit in really well with the team,” Booker said. “I found my niche. On the next level, I know I have to create more for myself. I think I'm already surprising people with a little bit of athleticism. Just stay tuned.”

Booker becomes the first pick from the Coast in the NBA Draft's first round since the Toronto Raptors selected Picayune's Jonathan Bender with the fifth overall selection in 1999. He was later traded to the Indiana Pacers.

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas praised Booker's potential Thursday.

“Devin Booker can really shoot the ball, but he's more than that. He's a terrific athlete,” Bilas said. “He didn't have to show that much at Kentucky. He just had to catch and shoot. He's got a tight stroke. He had the best agility times at the NBA Combine. He really is a young (Golden State guard) Klay Thompson.”

Booker finished his high school career at Moss Point in 2014 as the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,518 career points.

Booker averaged 10 points a game and was named the SEC's Sixth Man of the Year in his one season at Kentucky.

Booker hit 41 percent of his 3-pointers last year for the Wildcats and he helped himself with a strong showing at the NBA Combine and during private workouts with several teams.