Fan favorite, spark plug, emotional, high-effort ... there are a lot of descriptions you can use when discussing Terrence Phillips. He’s been the single most outspoken pro-Mizzou basketball player in a long time, so much so that you begin to believe in a process that may not exist because his charisma speaks out in a way that convinces you it’s true.
#1 Terrence Phillips
5'11" 180 lbs
One more word that easily describes Phillips: leader. He’s led in a lot of ways, but when the ship is adrift, it’s difficult to lead, especially when you’re a sophomore. Mostly you just shout lots of things that sound good. But the community responds to and bonds with Phillips in a way the program has desperately.
I'll never forget who was around when times were hard pic.twitter.com/RcooEICtAC— Terrence Phillips (@FloorGeneral03) March 29, 2017
When Kim Anderson recruited Phillips, he saw a point guard who could help the Tigers rebrand. At Oak Hill, Phillips was surrounded on all sides by elite talent, and he helped maximize their output by being the best distributor in school history. Then he arrived at Missouri, and the load shifted. What he was asked to do at Oak Hill wasn’t what was needed at Missouri, and his usage rate went up. He was productive enough to make you believe he was the answer for at least one of the positions on the floor.
The problem was the surrounding talent wasn’t enough to give Phillips the output he needed to be the kind of player he was bred to be. His assist rate went up this past year. His True Shooting percentage and eFG% both went up. His turnover rate went down. Phillips got quite a bit better, despite some inconsistent performances.
The problem was his 2PT% went significantly down despite his 3PT% going up. That’s usually a sign he was forcing shots on the interior, something that’s difficult with his size in a league like the SEC.
I’ll take another 3.4% increase in his 3-pt shooting, however. The Tigers notoriously struggled from deep, but Phillips was by far the most consistent shooter. You can see the hours of shots he put up in the offseason paying off.
Phillips’ Offensive Rating was still under 100, though, and this is going to need to change. But year over year improvement in just about every statistical category is a positive thing, and we shouldn't ignore it.
One area he’ll certainly need to clean up is the fouling. Terrence committed a near perfect 5.0 fouls per 40 minutes of play. That is ... not good. It was better than the 5.2 he committed as a freshman, but that number should be much lower. Hopefully having a new coach with a different defensive philosophy can help Phillips to limit his fouling.
I do believe Phillips can be the answer at point guard, even on a better team. You surround him with shot-makers, like a Michael Porter Jr. and Jordan Barnett, and ask him to score less, and suddenly Phillips can do what he was bred to do. He can be the distributor he was recruited to be.
I mean, what more can a Mizzou fan ask for from a player? He’s a strong advocate for the program, he’s a fierce competitor, he’s emotional and he’s good to boot!
The problem TP has, which we all know, is that he’s a pass-first and -second point guard who has been forced to become a scorer because, for most of his Mizzou career, the options around him have been limited.
As we said last year, the 3-point shooting has been a nice surprise, and his aggressiveness with the ball to the rim has been something this team has needed, since it appears no one else currently feels comfortable slashing to the rim.
The past two years have been hard on TP and there were times this season where he let his emotions get the better of him, most likely out of frustration, that caused him to commit a few harder fouls than you’d like to see. But I’m sure there are fans out there that love that hard edge and the “grown man, throw em to the floor” basketball than I do. He also continued to defend a bit too much with his hands in a way a sophomore generally has worked out of his system, so figure that out TP and good things will come.
For all the patience Mizzou fans have shown over the past three years, and the optimism and excitement we have for next year, I am most excited for Terrence Phillips. He’s going to have a more confident and seasoned Jordan Barnett on one side and all-world freshman Micheal Porter Jr. on the other (plus, potentially, others). It’s a pass-first point guard’s dream come true. Can’t wait to see what those assist numbers look like a year from now, and I bet he can’t either.
Our friends at the Solid Verbal jokingly changed Arizona quarterback Nick Foles’ name to Nick Foles in a Losing Effort a while back, a running meme and acknowledgment of how many impressive performances he had while his team around him stunk.
For what I assume are obvious reasons, I thought back to that meme pretty frequently during Terrence Phillips' second season. 22 points on 10 field goal attempts in a loss to Kentucky. 18 points on nine attempts in a loss to Tennessee. 16 points and 7 assists in a loss to Alabama, 20 points in a loss to Georgia, 12 and eight during a loss to LSU. In so many games, he was the only person who could make shots, so he had to take more of them.
In theory, that changes a bit next year, and for the reasons Sam and Chris already mentioned. Michael Porter Jr. will take on a good portion of the scoring load, which should free up better opportunities for Jordan Barnett and Kevin Puryear and let TP distribute to more guys who can actually take advantage.
Put it this way: Phillips was 25th in the country with a 33.6 percent assist rate in 2016-17. On a team that ranked a nightmarish 334th in effective FG%. Imagine what he could do on a team that can shoot.