I'm not going to lie, Phil Booth is my favorite player on the team (bring the flat top back to cement your status Phil). Kris Jenkins made a good run at it and is now pretty close to 1a, but I'm always going to have a soft spot for #5. Besides the talent he has on both ends of the court, he owns what I lovingly refer to as #BoothFace.
I don't know how to describe it if you haven't seen it. The closest thing I can find is Charlie Kelly's Wildcard Face from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. And listen, weird faces happen to all athletes in action shots. Just one of those things. It just seems to happen to Phil Booth a lot in the run of play, and it's amazing.
(Amazingly, when his jump shots are captured on film he shows laser focus. When literally anything else happens, all hell breaks loose.)
To honor him, I'm chosen the ten best photos I could find from this past season in the gallery above. I hope this does him justice, though I'm sure it's nowhere close. Love you Phil.
Let's move on to what actually matters - his contributions on the court. On to the #analysis.
What we expected
After a stellar freshman season in which he posted an absurd 128.1 ORtg and a raw line of 5.6/1.5/1.5, big things were expected from the sophomore. His 55% mark from the field and 45% mark from beyond the arc in 2014-15 had fans dreaming of a future superstar.
When it came clear that Jalen Brunson had won the starting job, Phil Booth looked like a surefire candidate for Big East 6th Man of the Year.
Vote from Wisdom of Crowds
We held a vote to predict how many points Booth would total this season.
Phil Booth played in all 40 games this season, and VU Hoops predicted he would average between 7-9.9 points per game this season. A reasonable jump from the prior season given how well he played and the expected increase in minutes.
Damn, just missed it. Very close though.
Suffice to say, it was an up and down year for Booth. He just never really found his stride on offense (well, more on that in a second) and seemed to struggle for confidence and consistency shooting the ball this year. Reasonable fans would have expected a small efficiency regression from his freshman campaign, but it took a nose dive. Now we're left to wonder what to expect next season - is he the marksman he showed during his freshmen season or the inconsistent finisher he was for most of this one? The answer is likely somewhere in between those two extremes.
To Booth's credit though, he never really let the offensive struggles affect him on defense. He was consistently one of the team's top perimeter defenders, and found himself earning more and more minutes in favor of Jalen Brunson during the stretch run when faced with athletic guards.
Maybe the easiest call for anybody all year - Booth dropped a career-high 20 points in the National Championship game to cement his status on the All-Tournament Team. His 6-7 performance (2-2 3P, 6-6 FT) from the floor had fans remembering Harold Jensen from 1985. When Villanova needed offense in the second half, it went to Booth over and over and he delivered to remind us of just how good he can be.
A 1-10 performance in the blowout victory against Penn in late December was really a microcosm of his season. Nothing was working for him that night, be it inside or out. It was at that point we knew Booth may be in for the sophomore slump.
With Ryan Arcidiacono out the door, there's a starting spot open in the backcourt next to Jalen Brunson and Booth will be the heavy favorite to earn that job. Given the success of the two-point guard offense this season it will be tough for Jay Wright to say no to that again in the fall. With another bump in minutes likely and the renewed confidence from his performance in the title game, I'm back on the Booth bandwagon and expecting big things in 2016-17.