Tyus Battle: Junior Primer

New Jersey wing Tyus Battle long ago established himself as one of the country’s most talented juniors and continues to make a soaring impact.

How he got here

Some guys develop late, and some develop very, very early. That latter scenario describes the story of Tyus Battle, who way back in 2012 showcased the talent to draw widespread acclaim.

Even prior to his first high school game, Battle had picked up offers from Syracuse, Rutgers, Miami and Rhode Island. He impressed that season, 2012-13, proving himself one of the most precocious talents in the 2016 class. According to colleague Brian Snow, Battle arguably performed best of any player at the Cancer Research Classic.

Battle’s game should further blossom as he gains muscle

He maintained the momentum. Battle competed at the Hampton EYBL event in the spring of 2013, demonstrating his refinement while playing with the Team Final 16-under squad.

His recruitment expanded to include programs in just about every pocket of the country. Lots of guys claim to have “dozens” of scholarship offers, but when Battle told us last summer that he held more than 20, no one doubted it. In fact, he issued an early list of finalists this past fall: Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, Syracuse, Villanova and Virginia.

Battle currently owns the No. 12 ranking in the junior class and does so largely because he has a high ceiling and a high floor. He has been battle-tested (ahem) against 17-under competition as an underclassman, given that he played up on the EYBL circuit last year.

In 23 games with Team Final, he averaged 11 points per game including a solid 37 percent on three-pointers. Though not a star on that circuit, he certainly held his own against older opponents.

To 2015. …

Battle’s first order of business this year must be to add balance and to become more efficient. He shot a woeful 38 percent from the field last year on the EYBL circuit, a number suppressed largely by the fact that he attempted nearly half of his shots from behind the arc.

At this point his game has relied to heavily on distance shooting, which though a strength needs augmentation from slashing and two-point scoring. We did find his July play encouraging, because he raised his numbers to 15 points per game on 44 percent shooting during the live period. Battle appeared to start figuring it out by the end of the travel season, so we’re all very eager to see if he can build upon that in 2015.

Obviously, he’s an effective perimeter shooter, but he also possesses lean athleticism and a frame that should enable him to become legitimately strong as he progresses.

I also like his defensive potential at 6-6, with the spidery athleticism to defend wing forwards and many shooting guards as well.

As mentioned above, there’s a very high likelihood that Battle will become a successful high-major performer. The things he does well, at 6-6 and athletic, typically enjoy a very high translation level to college and beyond. There aren’t enough shooters and scorers in college basketball — but don’t take my word for it, just ask your nearest college coach — and Battle will supply that as early as his freshman season.

To truly finish his prep career strongly, he’ll have to become more rounded and improve his ballhandling to create for himself. The best way to establish greater balance will be to develop more comfort making plays off the bounce and potentially adding a post-up game in certain matchups. Battle has time on his side, of course, and he will continue to be a major draw for coaches, scouts and fans over the next 15 months.

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