Phil Booth has enjoyed his fair share of collegiate success throughout his years at Villanova. Not many players can say they have 114 wins… and counting. Not many players can say they won two championships… and counting.
Any Villanova fan would tell you that Booth has ice running in his veins. As a sophomore, Booth poured in 20 points and missed only one out of seven shots in the biggest game of his young career in the championship game against the University of North Carolina. He was instrumental to two dominant teams, but never the main scorer or distributor of the squad with the likes of Ryan Arcidiacono and Jalen Brunson filling the other backcourt position.
Coach Wright had an excellent transition plan with the veterans Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges graduating after they cut down the net, knowing Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman were primed and ready to take over as the main offensive creators. However, the Wildcats’ success got ahead of the plans; Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman’s play on the court launched them into the first round of the 2018 NBA draft.
Everything that occurred in the offseason propelled Phil Booth and Eric Paschall into major roles for both sides of the ball. Early on, it appeared as though the duo was struggling to figure it out, along with the inexperience surrounding them. Since Big East play began, the Wildcats are undefeated due to the success of the two cornerstones. Booth, in particular, has truly embraced his new role by initiating the offense and setting up teammates. His point, rebound, and assist averages have improved throughout the season, and he is shooting 42.1% from 3-point range on a very difficult shot profile. He is doing all that while defenses are trying to get the ball out of his hands by leveraging their defensive schemes against him, such as doubling him, switching, or showing the big man on pick and rolls. These schemes tend to overwhelm college players due to inexperience and impatience, but Booth has learned to beat them recently.
Below is a perfect example of Booth’s calm under the pressure of a temporary double or show. He is more than happy to set up his teammate Jermaine Samuels for an easy bucket. The clip also shows Villanova’s principle of sharing the ball for the best shot because Samuels gives up the deuce to pass to Collin Gillespie for a wide open corner 3.
Here’s another clip of Booth as the ball-handler in a pick-and-roll.
The previous clip shows the extent of Booth’s gravity. He has gravity because he pulls multiple defenders to him, away from their matchups. In this case, he attracts both his man and the center defending Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. In order to prevent the easy lay-in for Cosby-Roundtree, Saddiq Bey’s defender picks him up. This leads to Bey wide open for a 3-pointer; he misses the shot, but that is not the main takeaway. Opposing defenses are leveraging to prevent Booth from making an impact. By doing so, they are betting on themselves to limit or steal Booth’s passes to his open teammates; that has not worked out very well for opponents.
What was THAT??? How did Booth hit that shot? If you can’t see it, the defender changes the motion of Booth’s shot in the air, and he still drains it from way behind the college 3-point line. That’s ridiculous. Beyond developing his ball-handling and creation skills tremendously midseason, Booth has proven time and time again that he rises to the occasion when his team needs it.