Villanova's rising junior guard Phil Booth has a big season ahead of him. The Baltimore native doesn't balk away from magnitude though--he seems to thrive on it.
Splashing onto the college basketball scene his freshman year in 2014, Booth made an impressive debut. Averaging 56 percent for field goals, he culminated the year by winning the honor of Philadelphia Big 5's "Rookie of the Year." His sophomore season, though not as statistically high-profile as his freshman season, was marked with him being the noted sixth man for the Wildcats.
However, the 2015-16 post-season Booth revealed a "beast mode" that would make Marshawn Lynch proud.
Booth delivered next-level hustle in the 2016 NCAA Championship game against UNC, racking up a career-high of 20 points. In fact, it was Booth's 3-pointer near the 3 minute mark that pushed Villanova in the lead 69-66, effectively giving the Wildcats much needed momentum in crunch time.
That crucial Booth boost continued at the 35 second mark of the game--with Nova up 1, Booth drew a foul and cooly executed 3 free throws, giving Villanova a cushion against the burgeoning last-second UNC attack.
Could any other anecdote more perfectly capture the icy resolve of Booth? Get Booth in the zone, and forget the stalwart height of the opposing team.
Forget he only started 3 games in his sophomore season.
Forget the clock, forget the pressure.
It's just Booth and buckets. He may have been the sixth man during the 2015-16 season, but there is no doubt that when calculating the moving forces catapulting Villanova to their "One Shining Moment," Phil Booth was top tier.
Even with keeping in mind Booth's impactful championship performance, the most exciting thing about the player is the arsenal he has yet to unleash. With the graduation of noted players like Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, coach Jay Wright is presented with openings to cultivate a team that will likely incorporate greater court presence from Booth. While it is an exercise in discipline for Nova fans to accept an era without Arch's 3s (at least in a Villanova jersey; can the Spurs' season start already?), Booth's skills as a point guard for cementing a shot are only further going to be honed.
Complemented on the court with the finesse of skilled senior guard Josh Hart, Booth's junior year with the Wildcats holds the promise of being as thrilling as his post-season display. His penchant for securing the swoosh under pressure is an undeniable asset for the 'Cats, and the upcoming season is his Wall Street.
It's his time to capitalize.