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Villanova’s Phil Booth Is More Than A “Role Player”

Little Known Fact: He scored a team high 20 points in the 2016 National Championship!

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Happy Monday Nova Nation! As the new season draws closer, we’re starting to see more lists, previews, and #hottakes. One story-line that seems to be popping up more and more for the defending Champs is how important it will be for “role player” Phil Booth to step up and help fill the void left by his departed teammates.

I’ll just say it now, any time you see “role player” and Phil Booth in the same sentence you can already dismiss the author as someone that has no idea what’s going on at Villanova.

It’s not that I don’t get how people could arrive at this conclusion. Statistically, Booth has been a “role player” for his career. Over his three-ish seasons he scored just 7.5 PPG on 43% shooting (37% from 3), with 2.1 APG. He’s missed 40 career games due to injury, and even last year in his best season he was just 6th on the team in scoring and 8th in FG% among rotation players. But if you only look at statistics, you don’t understand Phil Booth’s impact on this team.

First off, he’s not filling in the leadership role, he’s expanding it. While Brunson was the floor general and Bridges led by example, Phil Booth was the vocal leader of this team. His coach has repeatedly described him as “the heart of this team”, going all the way back to the 2016-17 season in which he was sidelined after just 3 games. If a player that isn’t playing can impact a team positively from the sidelines, I don’t know what else you call leadership.

Even statistically, Booth made more of an impact last season than a simple perusal of the stat sheet would reveal. He was second on the team in rebounds per game among guards, only behind the super springy Donte DiVincenzo. He also averaged nearly 3 assists per game, had the second lowest fouls committed per 40 minutes, and was Top 25 in the Big East for Offensive Rating according to KenPom.

Yes, those are all a bit more obscure statistics, but they show how rounded his game was on both sides of the court. Role players are usually guys that can only do one or two things really well. Booth can do everything well. If there’s one thing I agree with in today’s NCAA article on Booth as a “glue guy”, it’s the final line: “Villanova wouldn’t have cut down the nets twice if not for Booth.”

In other “news”, Isaiah Stewart has Calipari swooning, Nova is one of the statistical best of the last decade, and Omari Spellman could have a huge first season. Enjoy!

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