Where Are They Now? Kevin Bookout
Kevin Bookout may have come to Norman from the small town of Stroud, Okla., but he certainly departed having left a huge footprint having been a fixture on the basketball court, as well as in track and field as a shot put/discus thrower.
On the hardwood, the 6-foot-8, 270-pounder was a rare four-year starter who averaged 29.5 minutes, 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds over his career. On OU’s all-time lists, Bookout currently ranks 27th in points scored, second in field goal percentage (.574) and 15th in rebounds (682). He was also one of the most productive freshmen in OU basketball history, currently ranking in the top 10 in 11 of 19 statistical categories.
After basketball, Booktout continued his track career where he excelled even more than on the court as a three-time NCAA All-American in the outdoor shot put and the 2007 Big 12 Champion in the outdoor and outdoor shot put. He is also the current OU record holder in the shot put.
Bookout, who also spent some time in the NBA’s D-League averaging 4.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in eight games for the Grande Valley Vipers and is now working toward participating in the 2012 Olympic games in track, spoke with OUHoops.com earlier this week about the future and memories of his time in Norman.
OUHoops.com: Tell us what you are up to now with your life. Where you are living, how your training is going, how your brothers are doing, and anything else that you want to share with Sooner fans.
Bookout: I am training in Phoenix at the World Throws Center (www.worldthrowscenter.com). John Godina put together a throws center that I am at. My brothers are doing great, they both work for the University. Thank you Sooner fans for being so great to me. I loved every second of my career at OU. OU fans are a family and made me feel comfortable wherever I go.
OUHoops.com: Tell us about your decision to play college basketball coming out of Stroud? What made you choose hoops over baseball and track and field? Are you glad that hoops was the path that you chose?
Bookout: It was always a dream to have the chance to play college basketball. God really blessed me with the athletic ability to play multiple sports. Basketball and track and field were always my favorite two sports. Track was always my favorite and then basketball. Since I was healthy enough to do two sports in college, I jumped right on it. Not to many people can say they won a Big 12 championship in two different sports.
OUHoops.com: What was your experience like playing AAU basketball for Athletes First? Who were some of the top D-1 guys that you played with?
Bookout: Loved playing with A1. I am actually talking to Deangelo Alexander right now over the internet. I made some really good friends while playing for A1. D. Alexander, Shelden Williams, Kelenna Azibuike, Marcus Hayden, J.R. Giddens, Darnell Jackson, Jonathon Bluitt.
OUHoops.com: As a big-time hoops recruit, what were some of the other schools besides OU that you were looking at? Who finished second the Kevin Bookout sweepstakes? What was your favorite part of the recruiting process? Least favorite?
Bookout: Oklahoma State, Kansas, UCLA, Illinois, Arkansas, second was Oklahoma State. Favorite was getting free tickets to games, and least favorite was talking on the phone. I hate talking on the phone. I do not know how many times I would just hit ignore.
OUHoops.com: How did basketball help you in the shot-put? How did shot-put help you with basketball?
Bookout: Basketball helped me by being able to move better. I am probably one of the most athletic throwers in the world. Shot put helped with basketball by giving me power. My favorite shot in college was the jump hook, the wrist I used to guide the basketball was the same I used to throw the shot.
OUHoops.com: What kind of influence did your brothers have on you coming to Oklahoma? Which Bookout left the biggest mark on the school in your opinion?
Bookout: Huge influence. I am really close to both of my brothers, they are role models in my life still. But Casey and Kyle were both successful in college.
OUHoops.com: You were always such a popular athlete on campus and at the LNC. Looking back, what are your thoughts on the OU fans and how they embraced you? I always thought it was great how you interacted with everyone from the fans to the LNC gameday staff.
Bookout: Fans were a huge part of the game. Being from Oklahoma and going to an Oklahoma school made it better for me. If you treat people the right way, they will treat you the same way. I always liked to interact with the fans. I remember every game I would talk to the student section that would sit right by the opposite team bench.
OUHoops.com: What was your favorite part about being a student at OU? What did you like to do for fun besides basketball?
Bookout: I enjoyed school, and being able to interact with students was fun to me. Used to play golf, I would destroy Kellen Sampson when we would play.
OUHoops.com: What was your favorite class at OU? Who was your favorite professor? What did you end up getting your degree in?
Bookout: Any Dr. Gurney class. He is the man. Human relations.
OUHoops.com: Kelvin Sampson — the man, the myth, the legend. Tell us about what it was like playing for Coach Sampson? How did he you help improve your game? How did he help shape you off the court?
Bookout: Coach was tough to play for. One thing about Coach Sampson was that he really did love all his players. He would fight for you. Even if he wore you out in practice, you knew he always had your back. He improved me by pushing me to a limit I did not know I had. He gets the most out of his players.
OUHoops.com: What does the popular Sampsonian phrase “Heart, Hustle, and Hardwood” mean to you?
Bookout: Toughness, getting every loose ball.
OUHoops.com: I need to get your breakdown on two patented Bookout celebrations. The arms in the air return back down the court. And the Bookout to Kellen Sampson chest bump. Break those two down for us, and as a continuation, were you ever worried that you were going to injure Kellen?
Bookout: (Laughs) I dont know why I did the arms in the air, maybe I was acting like I was throwing a shot put. Never thought I would injury Kellen with it, that was always fun to do. I was just having fun out on the court. Kellen and I had a chest bump this summer while playing in a 4-on-4 basketball game. It brought back some good memories.
OUHoops.com: Favorite game/moment as a Sooner basketball player and why?
Bookout: OU-OSU 2005 at home. Started the game 21-2. I still have never heard LNC that loud again.
OUHoops.com: Toughest game/moment as a Sooner basketball player and why?
Bookout: Syrcuse, Elite Eight game. So close to playing in New Orleans for Hollis and Q.
OUHoops.com: The Bedlam game of 2006 might have been my favorite Sooner game of all-time. You are forever etched in youtube lore for you break-away dunk at the end that helped fuel the Sooners to victory. OSU fans claim that you traveled. Give your thoughts on that wonderful game in which Relly hit the two free throws to win after Eaton tried to take a charge. And did you travel?
Bookout: No, I didnt travel. If I would have traveled the ref would have called it! I can remember that game as it was yesterday. When I missed that free throw and Nate Carter knocked it backcourt to an OSU player, my heart dropped. I could barely watch when Relly Rell was shooting those free throws. I would not have wanted any other player on my team at the line but Relly.
OUHoops.com: That 2006 year was a bittersweet year. You guys might have had the most down to the wire games that I have ever seen. How tough was it to lose in the first round of the tourney that year? Did you feel like that team could have made some serious noise in the dance? What went wrong in your opinion with that team/season?
Bookout: Losing Drew and Lawrence was tough. Going into my senior year, we were returning our starting five from a Big 12 championship year. Point guard in college is the most important position.
OUHoops.com: A lot of Sooner fans want to know your take on the shoulder injury. Tell us what happened, and what you might have done differently (if anything) had hindsight been 20/20. What are you thoughts on that whole situation looking back?
Bookout: If I could go back, I would of redshirted the year that I hurt it. I really thought I could play through the pain, but it just hurt. I made the right decision to get it cut on. It has not gave me very many problems since I hurt it back in 2003. My shoulder is stronger than ever.
OUHoops.com: I am going to give a list a former teammates and have you say one, two words max about each one. Just give us the first word that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be basketball related. Here we go:
Hollis Price >>> leader, tough
Jason Detrick >>> long, quiet
Drew Lavender >>> quick, small
Johnnie Gilbert >>> leader, smart
Larry Turner >>> hands, hideout
Kellen Sampson >>> great friend, roommate
Mike Neal >>> shooter, Iowa State
Taj Gray >>> athletic, boy
Terrell Everett >>> smooth, Texas A&M
Deangelo Alexander >>> shooter, Athletes First
David Godbold >>> Oklahoma Kid, Athletes First
Jaison Williams >>> funny, JWill
Austin Johnson >>> long, Water bottle
Lawerence McKenzie >>> Uconn, alligator arms
Longar Longar >>> raw, me Bennie!
Taylor Griffin >>> athletic, hard nosed
OUHoops.com: What was the biggest shot that you hit in your career?
Bookout: Tip-in to win at Texas Tech.
OUHoops.com: Who was the toughest guy you ever had to go up against?
Bookout: Emeka Okafor.
OUHoops.com: What was your favorite game as Sooner? If it was Bedlam ’06, then what was your second favorite game as a Sooner and why?
Bookout: I said Oklahoma State ’05 earlier, so ill say UConn in 2005. Ask Kellen why it was one of our favorite.
OUHoops.com: Who did Coach Sampson get after the most of all your teammates during your time in Norman?
Bookout: I dont think you can single out just one person…everyone.
OUHoops.com: What was your reaction to Coach Sampson leaving for Indiana?
Bookout: Wasn’t that shocked. Coach had done a lot at Oklahoma. He was ready to move on to a different University.
OUHoops.com: What are your thoughts on Coach Capel and the current program? Do you still keep up with the program? Do you plan to catch any games? What is your take on next year’s squad?
Bookout: Coach Capel is doing a great job with the program. Yes, I do keep up with the program and probably haven’t missed a OU basketball since I left. I catch as many games as I can, but most of them I watch on TV. I will try and catch one over Christmas this year. I talk to Kellen Sampson all the time, and they are really excited about the season coming up. I think they will have great guard play, so they will be in games.
OUHoops.com: Are you going to try and catch any Suns games now that Taylor is playing?
Bookout: Yes, I will. Taylor and I have hung out a lot since I been here. I am going to the game October 6. If I am not busy at night, I will catch as many games as I can.
OUHoops.com: Has the current staff reached out to you, and do you feel welcome as a part of the Oklahoma basketball family?
Bookout: Yes, they have. I like the staff that they have right now. They make me feel at home at the basketball office.
OUHoops.com: What are your thoughts on the Late, Great Wayman Tisdale?
Bookout: We lost a great human with Wayman. He was always really nice to me. He would always go out of his way to talk to you. Wayman was an amazing basketball player and friend. I was always nervous when I saw Wayman for the first time because he was a hero to me. But once you got to talk to Wayman he was just like talking to someone that wasn’t so athletically gifted. Sooner nation will miss Wayman.
OUHoops.com: Anything that you want to say to your many Sooner basketball fans?
Bookout: Thank you for being great to me. I could not have asked for better fans over my four years at OU. BOOMER SOONER!!!
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