Coming out of Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, it’s safe to say Terrence Phillips was not the highlight name on Oak Hill’s 2015 squad.
With names like Daniel Giddens (Ohio State and Alabama), Dwayne Bacon (Florida State and now the Charlotte Hornets), and Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State), it was easy to overlook Phillips, a 3-star prospect, both literally (with his 5’11” frame) and figuratively.
However, it’s hard to ignore Phillips’ impact on the Missouri program, both on and off the court.
He has started 54 of 63 career games, including all 31 games as a true freshman. Even though Missouri was not where they wanted to be record-wise during that stretch, Phillips was one of the few bright spots.
And now with the addition of the top-5 recruiting class, including the ESPN’s No. 2 player in the 2017 class in Michael Porter Jr., look for Phillips to really step into a role of primary distributor at the point guard position.
Inside the Numbers
Two of the stats that really jump off the page upon a first glance at Phillips’ advanced stats are his assist percentage, which is the amount of possessions that a player assists on while on the court, and his turnover percentage, which is the same stat, except with turnovers.
Phillips’ assist percentage is elite, comparing nearly identically with current Orlando Magic point guard and former top 10 pick Elfrid Payton.
That percentage is even more impressive when the quality of playmakers around him is considered, which is important to Phillips’ percentage due to the lack of success that Missouri had under Kim Anderson.
The turnover percentage, however, is quite disturbing, seeing that Phillips committed turnovers on 1 out of 5 possessions, which is not nearly where he needs to be to be able to be successful this upcoming season.
That amount of turnovers gives pause to the thought that Phillips could have a phenomenal junior season where he really solidifies his name in draft considerations for 2019, but if he can keep the turnovers down (which should be easier to do because of the sharp uptick in talent) and maintains the high assist percentage, Phillips can have the breakout year that he’s been looking for and really get on the radar of NBA scouts.
With Missouri poised to take a major step forward in the SEC, Phillips is very important to the team’s success.
Sure, Michael Porter Jr. and his brother Jontay are 2 freshmen that are going to make the most difference, but basketball is a team sport in its truest form, so all the returnees also need to take a step forward, with Phillips and Kevin Puryear leading that charge.
If Phillips can become the low turnover, high assist distributor that Cuonzo Martin needs him to be, the Tigers have as good of a chance of any team in the SEC not named Kentucky to make noise in the NCAA tournament.