VUSports: How are you feeling health-wise?
Phil Booth: I feel great. I am feeling way better than I felt at any time last year. The surgery did me well and the staff did a great job. I am feeling like I am at 100% right now.
VUSports: How do you feel things are meshing with you and Jalen in the backcourt right now?
Phil Booth: We have a great relationship on and off the court. He is a very good player and an unselfish guy so I don’t have a problem playing alongside of him. He has always been one to look for others ahead of himself so we should have a good thing going along with the rest of the guys on the court.
VUSports: Do you anticipate that either you or Jalen will be on the court pretty much all the time or will Donte DiVincenzo be playing some at the 1 as well?
Phil Booth: Honestly, I don’t know. There could be times where all three of us are on the court or even none of us. It could depend on what coach is thinking or who we are playing I honestly don’t know yet but it could be any of the three of us out there by ourselves.
VUSports: You have shot the ball quite well from mid-range and deep seemingly from the moment you walked on campus but your handle and passing off the dribble have been areas needing more attention. What have you been doing to improve those aspects of your game knowing you will be asked to play the point more than in the past?
Phil Booth: The summer is always about improving your offensive skills and offensive game so I always try to get an edge and work on my offensive ability. Anything I can do handling and shooting-wise to keep everything clean and try to improve every aspect of my game I will do.
VUSports: You rebound well from the guard position do you see that and your defensive ability being an asset late in games to ensure that even though you, in tandem with Jalen, could be considered a “smaller backcourt” you can finish games strong?
Phil Booth: For us, all five guys have to rebound. We really take pride in that and we really do all rebound. it isn’t one guy - it takes all five so neither of us mind getting in there and getting boards, especially late in games.
VUSports: What was the first thing your father said to you when you first saw him after the National Championship game?
Phil Booth: He said “I am so proud of you, son”. I don't remember what I said back to him but I remember that is the first thing he said to me.
VUSports: That’s cool
Phil Booth: Yes, it is.
VUSports: If you could pick any artist to perform this Friday at Hoops Mania, who would you want to see?
Phil Booth: I am a Drake guy. I love Drake so I would love for Drake to be here on Friday.
VUSports: As fun as it must have been to be a part of the championship run last year, how did it feel not be able to get on the court and compete full bore in those games?
Donte DiVincenzo: It was frustrating at first but then I came to realize that I was contributing every day in practice - trying to get those guys ready. Myself and Eric [Paschall], even though we weren’t playing, we used our practices as our game days. We tried to bring it every single day especially towards the end of the season.
VUSports: Which of the two of you do you think did the better Buddy Hield impersonation during practices when you simulated him for the team to game plan against?
Donte DiVincenzo: [laughing] They said I did pretty well doing Buddy Hield in practice but I was just trying to give them the best look I could. Obviously, he is a great player and you can’t perfect what he does - but I tried to do it the best that I could.
VUSports: Your jumper was perhaps a little inconsistent last year - the last two Saturday's, in the open practices, it looked like your form is a little different and you are knocking them down with more consistency - is that a fair assessment?
Donte DiVincenzo: Yeah. This past year I was working on my form. Working back to the basics. Making sure my shoulders were forward and I wasn’t leaning back and making sure that I step into it confidently and that I wasn’t thinking about my jump-shot. Now I am just letting it go and if I miss it I am getting back on defense to defend - regardless, I get back on defense and defend.
VUSports: Do any of the assistants kind of have the reputation as the “Shot Doctor” and work with guys … ?
Donte DiVincenzo: They all work with us about our shot but, in particular, I worked with Coach "Bake" [Baker Dunleavy] just making sure I get back to focusing on the little things.
VUSports: It does seem you are more square to the basket and your follow-through is more consistent ... ?
Donte DiVincenzo: Yeah.
VUSports: From the perspective of how you are going to get into the mix with Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth - do you see yourself getting minutes at the 1, specifically, just getting thrown out as needed anywhere from the 2 through the 4, or how… ?
Donte DiVincenzo: I think that what is good about me is that I can play different positions. Wherever I get thrown out I am going to do my best to contribute however they need me to.
VUSports: From a ball-handling perspective do you feel you are ready to get thrown out there at the 1?
Donte DiVincenzo: Yes, I am confident in myself.
VUSports: You made a few passes in the blue/white scrimmage that were certainly of point guard quality - do you enjoy trying to make that sort of pinpoint pass or highlight pass?
Donte DiVincenzo: Some of them can turn into a highlight reel pass but I am just trying to make the right play. I am not going for the home run every single time we get the ball ... but if it opens up and it looks good, so be it … two points and let’s get back on defense.
VUSports: Defensively, Coach Wright likes a lot of versatility, it seems that you have the tools to guard anyone from a 1 to a 4 … ?
Donte DiVincenzo: I am confident in myself and I think Coach is confident in me covering different positions. I cover the 4 in practice, the 1 in practice, it doesn’t matter. I am just using my size and my strength and my abilities to defend.
VUSports: If you were able to choose the performer for Hoops Mania on Friday, who would you want?
Donte DiVincenzo: I would really enjoy if Lil Uzi came - he is a rapper from Philly.