It’s the question that’s been lingering in the back of every Villanova fan’s mind, and the subject of many heated debates between students and alumni alike–is Phil Booth coming back to play this season?
Booth has last appeared in a 76-65 win over Western Michigan on Nov. 17. The junior guard only played in three games this season and much speculation arose surrounding his status and a possible return. After the Tuesday night victory over Georgetown, head coach Jay Wright provided some added news on Booth, and it’s not looking promising that he’ll return to the court at all this season.
“Every day we don’t get him in practice, it looks worse, for getting him back,” Wright said.
“I’m going to let him make that decision. He hasn’t had to make the decision, because he hasn’t been cleared for practice yet.”
Last season, Booth came off the bench and averaged 7.0 points per game. He saved his best for last, playing the role of the unsung hero, as he scored 20 points on 6-7 shooting from the floor against North Carolina–a game-high scoring performance that took the backseat to the buzzer-beating shot.
At the beginning of this season, he played in Villanova’s starting five, filling the gap at guard left behind by Ryan Arcidiacono.
On May 4, one month after his key performance in the championship game, Booth underwent a successful arthroscopic knee surgery. Since then, his issues with his knee have returned, and he is working towards a full recovery.
“He’s working every day to try to get to where we can at least practice him,” Wright said. “He went full court the other day, and came up sore the next day. You know, full court working out, not with the team. Just on his own, and he came up sore the next day so we had to rest him for two or three days.”
Wright went on to say that Booth is, and has been, doing everything he can to be able to play this season. Ultimately, Wright is letting Booth decide what he wants to do. However, they will need to see what the NCAA is willing to do in this situation. There’s been talk of a possible medical redshirt, but even Wright doesn’t seem to be clear on the particulars of that.
“We’ve got to find out what the rules are,” he said. “If it gets to a point down the road and he’s healthy, does he have a choice to say, ‘I have only four games left, I don’t want to play.’ We’re not even sure about that. Then, if one of the choices is surgery, and he chooses surgery, he’s done obviously. If he doesn’t choose surgery, probably it’s going to be longer rest.”
With only seven players in the regular rotation last night, questions of the team’s depth have lingered throughout the season and will be a major issue to address in March.
The Wildcats’ head coach may have summed up the whole situation with his final closing remark on Booth.
“It doesn’t look good.”