CLEMSON — Utah Jazz power forward Trevor Booker told a room full of student entrepreneurs in the spring that he looked forward to hearing their business ideas and that he would help in any way he could.

Now he’s making good on that promise.

Trevor Booker, who is wearing the blue shirt, had some laughs when he visited a meeting of The Design and Entrepreneurship Network.

Trevor Booker, who is wearing the blue shirt, had some laughs when he visited a meeting of The Design and Entrepreneurship Network.

Booker said Monday that he is giving $30,000 to his alma mater, Clemson University, to support students in two separate programs.

The lion’s share of the contribution will benefit The Design and Entrepreneurship Network, also known as The DEN. Some of the money is also earmarked for Emerging Scholars of Clemson University, a program that helps high school students from economically disadvantaged areas of South Carolina get into college.

When Booker visited campus in April, he attended a spirited meeting of The DEN in Rhodes Hall Annex. As part of The DEN, students and faculty members develop their entrepreneurial skills. They work with mentors ranging from patent attorneys to angel investors to take their technologies and ideas to market.

“I’m proud to give back to my alma mater,” Booker said. “Entrepreneurship is one of my passions, and I’m looking for new opportunities for life after basketball. That’s why The DEN was such a terrific fit. I’m hoping that this will be the start of a long, fruitful relationship that benefits everyone involved.”

Booker, a Whitmire native, was a standout on the Tigers’ basketball team before graduating in 2010. He was the 23rd overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft.

John DesJardins, the faculty director of The DEN and the Hambright professor, said he was honored to have Booker’s support.

“As a professional basketball player, he’s helping us spread the word to an audience that might never have heard about The DEN,” DesJardins said. “His renown and financial support are helping us create the next generation of leaders who will not only be qualified for jobs, but will create business and jobs in South Carolina.”

In one year, more than $1.75 million has been invested in student and faculty companies from Clemson because of connections made through The DEN. The program is based in the College of Engineering and Science, but students from all disciplines are participating.

Booker’s contribution to the university includes:

  • $15,000 to create the Trevor Booker ‘10 Annual Fellowship to support a graduate student leader working with The DEN
  • $5,000 to start an Innovation Fund to help students in The DEN build prototypes of their technologies
  • $10,000 for Emerging Scholars

Amber Lange, the director of the Emerging Scholars, said the program helps underserved students learn about the basics of applying to college and develop their skills in reading, writing and math.

“We would very much like to thank Trevor for his support and taking the time to visit us,” Lange said. “No child should be denied the opportunity to attend college because of where they were born. Trevor’s support will help us make higher education a real opportunity for students who might not have otherwise had the chance.”

Bre Przestrzelski, the student founder and leader of The DEN, said that Booker’s support will help attract more students and mentors to a quickly growing program.

“We’re extremely grateful,” she said. “The DEN’s mission is spreading quickly, and Trevor’s help will accelerate our efforts. It goes to show the power of multidisciplinary entrepreneurship. We hope to attract more community and alumni support as the program grows.”

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