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

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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!

College basketball all-glue team: 5 role players who will make an impact this season | NCAA.com
The term ‘glue guy’ gets thrown around on college basketball broadcasts on a nightly basis, and though the analytics movement aims to quantify everything that takes place on the court, these players’ contributions are immeasurable. Here are the best glue guys in college basketball this year.

Can Kentucky make up ground with top recruit Isaiah Stewart? | Lexington Herald Leader
Five-star center Isaiah Stewart got a visit from UK basketball coach John Calipari last week. Stewart is one of the top-five recruits in the class of 2019, and Kentucky is now serious in its pursuit of him.

Hot Board - Official visits for elite 2019, 2020 prospects | ESPN+
Arizona recently landed five-star guard Nico Mannion. How is the rest of the 2019 class shaping up?

NCAA Basketball: Top 25 programs statistically of the last 10 years | Busting Brackets
Uncovering and ranking the NCAA Basketball top 25 programs of the last decade with an analytical formula based on efficiency ratings and tournament success. Villanova comes in at #7.

Atlanta Hawks: 4 Bold Predictions for Omari Spellman in 2018-19 | Soaring Down South
For each player on the Atlanta Hawks roster, Soaring Down South is delving into bold predictions about how that player will perform next season.