COLUMBIA — When Frank Haith first revealed the plan to Melvin Booker a few months ago, Missouri’s former star point guard could not help but smile.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
On Tuesday, Missouri’s men’s basketball coach decided to let everyone else in on the news.
During an interview with WHB (810 AM), Haith announced that on Oct. 25, Missouri will hold its exhibition game against Oklahoma City University at the Hearnes Center, the arena Booker starred in from 1990-1994.
That night, the Tigers will honor the 1993-1994 team, which will be invited back for a reunion along with legendary coach Norm Stewart. Missouri will even wear throwback uniforms from that season, which saw the Tigers go 28-4 (including 14-0 in Big Eight play) and advance to the Elite Eight.
"That was a special year for basketball," said Booker, who was named the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1994. "People didn’t expect much out of our team and we made a good run."
Booker said Haith first told him about the event, which will be free to the public, over the phone this summer.
"I’m really excited about it," Haith said. "That was the last undefeated (Missouri) team" in conference play and "obviously we remember some great games from that season."
The game will mark the men’s basketball team’s first game at the venue since it moved to Mizzou Arena in 2004.
"I thought it was a great time to honor us, with us coming up on 20 years since we made that run," Booker said. "He asked me how I felt about it…of course, I’m like ‘I’m all in.’"
So are some of his former teammates, apparently. Booker said Reggie Smith and Marlo Finner have already told him they plan on attending the reunion — which will be held the day before Missouri’s homecoming football game against South Carolina — and he soon plans on asking other former teammates like Lamont Frazier and Jevon Crudup, as well.
Interestingly enough, Booker will also be in town the previous weekend, when his son — five-star shooting guard Devin Booker — will make his official visit to Missouri.
Devin, who Rivals rates as the No. 27 player in the Class of 2014, has narrowed his list down to Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State and Missouri. He will visit Missouri the weekend of the football game against Florida, though he might consider coming back the next week for his dad’s reunion.
"I’m sure we’ll talk about it," Devin said Tuesday night. "I’m kind of excited for it."
Melvin said he’d like Devin to come back that weekend, too.
"I would like him to come back for that because it’s history," Melvin said.
Whether he does or not, Devin — who said he will likely make his college decision this fall — is definitely looking forward to his upcoming visit.
"I have a great relationship with the coaching staff," Devin said. "Me and (assistant) coach (Tim) Fuller are really tight. We have a real relationship. I just want to go up there and see the campus, man. And I want both of my parents at the game at the same time."
That definitely won’t be a problem for his dad, who was as excited about making back-to-back trips to Columbia this October on Tuesday as he was when he first found out about the event.
"Overall," Melvin said, "it’s going to be a great experience."