When he recently worked out for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phil Booth spoke with first-year head coach John Beilein, who encountered Booth and his Villanova teammates twice on the court in the last two seasons when he was the head man at Michigan.
One of those games was for the 2018 national championship, won by the Wildcats. Did Beilein say anything to Booth about it?
“He talked about the game but in a good way, a complimentary way to us,” Booth said Saturday. “He was complimenting us on the game, how good of a team we were and how good of a game that was.”
Booth will play on Beilein’s new team in a little more than a week, having agreed to a deal to play on the Cavaliers’ summer league team. Cleveland will begin competition in the Utah Summer League beginning July 1, and then in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas starting July 5.
“It’s a big opportunity, a chance to play under a new coach,” he said. “Coach Beilein is a really good coach. It’s a team that I really like. I like their culture and what they have going on, so it’s a great opportunity.”
Booth’s workout with the Cavaliers was one of 11 he had with various NBA teams, including the 76ers, and he thought it went well. On NBA draft night, he felt the likelihood of getting picked was “up in the air.”
“There was a chance of going in the second round but I was prepared not to get drafted,” he said.
Booth said his agent, Jordan Gertler, fielded a few offers after the draft before deciding Cleveland was the best option.
He said he “didn’t think that far ahead” to consider the kind of fit the Cavaliers would be. He just hopes to impress enough in the coming weeks to keep alive his dream of playing in the NBA.
“It’s not easy. It’s real select company,” he said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity every chance I get being on the court and showcasing my skills. To play out there is a great opportunity for me that I want to take advantage of.”
Booth believes that having played at Villanova, which has had six players selected in the last three drafts, has prepared him for the next challenge.