Prior to the start of the season, I sat down with Phil Booth at Villanova’s media day. I talked to a lot of players that afternoon, but none of them were as focused or genuinely excited for the season to begin as Booth was. He’s a charismatic young man who was ready to step up and learn how to be a leader on this team. This season he accomplished just that, but unfortunately he had to do it from the sidelines.
Phil Booth Career Statistics
During warm-ups against Western Michigan, Villanova’s 4th game of the season, Booth was experiencing enough pain in his knee for the coaching staff to decide to sit him for the game. Despite optimistic timetables that were pushed back every week, Booth wouldn’t get back on the court for the Wildcats for the rest of the season.
The pain came from an inflammation in the same knee that Booth had arthroscopic surgery on following his heroic 20-point performance in the National Championship game. During the off-season teammates and coaches both admired the tenacity and determination with which he rehabbed in order to be 100% for the start of the season. But once the pain returned, everyone decided it would be best for Phil’s basketball career if they held him out until the pain had completely subsided. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the remainder of the season.
Did Phil Booth meet or exceed expectations in 2017?
The simple answer here is no, but no one is going to blame him for an injury that was both out of his control and handled responsibly. What Booth did accomplish this season were his off the court goals. He had said prior to the start of the season that he wanted to become a leader for this team, and he did just that.
While spending most of the year in a suit and tie at the end of the bench, Booth got a new perspective on the game and a better understanding of a coach’s perspective. He was able to mentor some of the younger players on the sidelines, and during practice he was able to ask more questions of the coaching staff while continuing the slow and steady process of healing.
By the end of the season, the pain had subsided enough for Booth to participate in practice activities, but he hadn’t yet been cleared for games. That’s a good sign that he should be back to 100% for next season, but obviously the training staff will keep a close eye on him. Next year will be Booth’s 4th on campus, and while he’ll still have another year of eligibility after that, he’ll be asked to take on a senior role for the team. With the new perspective he gained this season, that shouldn’t be a problem for the Wildcat’s elder statesman.