TDD sat down with the father of five star wing player Tyus Battle, Gary, to discuss his son’s recruitment, the coordination of same, and which decisions could be made sooner than later.
Has it hit you that Tyus is about to begin his senior season?
Gary Battle, father of Tyus Battle: It really goes really fast and it’s scary from the standpoint of I’m getting older too, haha. It’s all uncharted territory at that age with him and with his thought process and then with basketball mixed in with a star athlete at a high level, its very humbling and we are very blessed. It’s also but you want to be able to see him and you enjoy it when they are young like when they are 11 or 12 and whatnot when they listen, they are a sponge and then all of a sudden they are older and it’s different, that’s the scary part whether you are a parent or a coach too like I am.
Which changes have you noticed in Tyus from this time last year when recruiting really picked up?
More than anything it’s his personality. He’s becoming more aware and he’s coming to the point where he’s going to make one of the biggest decisions of his life that he will be where he’s happy while also not being completely whole because he won’t be around his family every single day. That’s the biggest thing really, he’s come to terms with that and a lot of the ways he’s really looking forward to it but he knows he’s gonna miss it too. He had a foot injury this year so he’s trying to get himself in better shape and he’s working his way back from that.
The injury gives you a real sense of vulnerability you know ? Like the season isn’t promised to you even though you were looking forward to it and being able to play. It makes you work on your academics even more than before and that’s one thing I’ve noticed, he’s always been a really good student and he’s really getting even better with that. That’s always been something that I’ve talked about but now he’s talking a lot more about it as well.
Did I hear right that Tyus is taking some AP courses this year?
Yeah he took a couple, AP Psychology, English, that’s really tough.
Is that his first exposure to AP structure?
He’s been doing them since he was a freshman but the English one recently, that was a big one and Psychology is a new course.
Has Tyus availed himself of the AP course tests students can take that give them opportunity to earn college credits?
Yeah I think they give him college credits but Tyus already is only one class away after this year from qualifying to go to college in 2015. He’s already taken Physics, he’s taken Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, Algebra II, Geometry, he’s taken a boatload of courses that carry over and he’s already qualified basically and ready to graduate once we talk with the NCAA.
Is reclassifying to 2015 and going to college early an option you guys are examining for Tyus in light of how close he is academically to qualifying?
The plan is to go in 2016, but we’ve been approved to do the 2015 thing a few times, it’s more a situation where he was trying to stay on task and just do the work in school. He goes to a higher academic school, it’s just the nature of his course load right from the start, I mean his freshman year he took Physics which was unheard of.
So when you say Tyus has been “approved” to reclassify, does that mean you guys have been approached by college coaches asking Tyus to consider that option?
It has come up but I don’t want to get into too much detail. When we sent out our College Boards and his transcripts and people saw his transcripts and they were like “Whoa wait a minute, you can qualify with one more class”. Before that, people said it but we would laugh it off. But now that we’ve been sending off the transcripts, people have seen them and once the Clearinghouse sees it at the schools, they can see where he stands. I doubt it that it will be an option though, at least not for me haha. Nothing like somebody mentioning they might take my kid away a year early haha.
In your estimation, what’s the value for Tyus to stay where he is and not go to college until 2016?
I think the value is you don’t rush through from a social standpoint that I think a kid like him, every kid is different, but with him I think he enjoys just being a kid. He would be a very young 2015 kid, he just turned 17, and he’s not one of those kids who reclassified when he was really young. Like I said before though, we’re going to visit Duke on the 17th and Louisville on the 19th and then first things first, we’re going to see where he wants to go to school over the next several months and we’ll try to not look too far ahead.
Duke and Louisville are two programs recruiting Tyus’s good friend Derryck Thornton, Jr. and both of those programs, like with Tyus, have discussed the reclassifying option with Derryck. Is that a subject of conversation amongst you guys as families?
I really don’t know where Derryck is in his process but I know with Tyus they want him to come in 2016. I haven’t talked with Tank Thornton in awhile, last time I talked with Tank was after the Findlay/Montverde game and he wasn’t happy with the game and the result. The nature of a long distance relationship with kids through social media, Twitter, I don’t think they talk on the phone but I also don’t know everything Tyus is doing, but they both check in and Tyus checks in with a lot of guys. V.J. King, Harry and Jayson Tatum and Josh Langford, that whole USA group of kids, he keeps in contacts with those guys. Tyus and Jayson, they connect, Tyus gets along with everybody.
You mentioned “changes” earlier and I noticed that Kentucky is back on Tyus’s list and in his Top 8 school list—what brought them back onto his list?
I think the bottom line was Tyus wanted them on his list and he was able to give a good reason for putting them on the list. I think Tyus definitely wanted them on the list but at the end of the day he knows with any school that he has to want to go there, we just get to visit. I think Kentucky with the success of the players, I think the past relationship with Karl Towns really helped, him and Tyus know each other and Tyus always liked Cal, Coach K, he likes those guys. Kentucky never really backed off and Tyus has always been on the top of their list from what they said.
Let’s switch gears to the upcoming Duke and Louisville visits—both of those are confirmed official visits right?
Yep, both officials and they are the first officials ever for us. We are feeling really good about both visits and both of them achieved a great amount more than people may have even expected in the NCAA Tournament. Even Louisville with the Chris Jones situation and how that went awry and they were still just a few seconds away from the Final 4, so that situation is what it is, Pitino is one of the best. We’re pretty satisfied with the way that they played and when we talk with them, we walk about basketball and how did they react after a tough loss, how did they react, how did they use their guys, stuff like that.
We knew that with Tyus not really being able to play until late May, early summer, we figured now is a good time to take some of these visits. That was the decision we made awhile ago and we made it to stay active so we could see some guys and some coaches and hopefully see some kids on campus before they head out.
Are you guys hoping just to see Tyus play with some current players at Duke and Louisville, or is it more you go in hoping to discuss things with them?
Yeah we want to be able to sit down, we met all the guys at Duke from when we were already there. I think you learn a lot after the season when kids are able to deal with any open wounds, everybody deals with whatever comes up during the season because everybody is open and excited before the season. Kids tell kids thing, it’s just honesty man, you take the good, bad and the ugly. It just gives you an opportunity to get good honest feedback and then you figure out where to go from there.
Any examples of helpful player feedback you have received like you just described of interactions you’ve had?
When we went to Louisville we were surprised how good the kids were. It was one of the better places in terms of kids just coming to us and talking to us and briefing Tyus, those kids were open and showed him the ropes of the gym, this and that, this is what Coach is like, just very genuine.
At Duke, Tyus hit it off with Tyus Jones, he was honest and he’s just a great kid, I was really impressed with him and with all the kids at Duke. Tyus said that Coach K really gives you freedom and lets you play, things like that. The thing is people say that but we really felt that over there, it just looked real, it didn’t look fake or phony. It really didn’t surprise me when they won on Monday night, because they were really together, even back then when we visited for the Blue/White Game.
What were your favorite games from the NCAA Tournament? Any impressions made of teams from watching them play?
One of my favorite games and for Tyus as well was the Notre Dame/Kentucky game, that was awesome. Those guys came together in the ACC Tournament, made that run together and then played great against Kentucky. Then Duke’s run was just phenomenal, we had a great appreciation for Wisconsin, that was really awesome to see, sad to see them lose because they worked so hard, but it was a great run and of course with Louisville almost making it to the Final 4, that was a good year too.
What’s the contact been like with Duke and Louisville over the past few months?
It’s been great, we talk to them or text them during game days, stuff like that. With Louisville and everybody, they have all been consistent. Duke has really built a great relationship with us and with the whole staff. It’s been with their whole group except for Nate James. We keep up with Scheyer and Capel and we’ve heard from Ohio State and Michigan a lot too.
So with scheduling the two official visits—does that signify that Tyus’s recruitment is coming to a close, or still has a way to go?
We’re moving in the right direction, feeling pretty good now that we have narrowed the list. When he’s ready, he’ll let me know.
What for you guys made you want to have Louisville and Duke be Tyus’s first official visits?
It was two things really. They asked for one and those are programs that speak for themselves. Duke just won the National Title, Louisville has won the National Championship as well and have been in two of the last four Final 4s. Those two programs and their plan for Tyus piqued our interest and they have consistently been involved with Tyus since he was a freshman in high school. We like the consistency and the real plan and the academic plan and the basketball and life plan. We’ll just be hoping for the best and I’m sure they are too. We’re looking forward to it because Tyus wants to win National Championship some day, he wants to win, he wants a degree, he wants it all and where he lands, his hope is that the coach will have the same vision and ability to get it done and timing is everything. We just want people to do well.
So to follow up, if you are on campus at Duke or Louisville and either coaching staff says that they really love Tyus, they are interested in him and they ask for him to consider reclassifying to 2015—how do you see you guys reacting to that potential option if it’s presented?
I think if we get it like that, if it’s legitimate, then it’s something you may want to think about, especially if its from a coach in the list of coaches that he has. You gotta respect that and look it and be humble and flattered, so you have to look at it. It doesn’t mean you gotta do it, it’s gotta be right for him you know?
Moving forward, are there any other schools that you for sure are going to take an official visit to before the process is concluded?
We’re going to take them one at a time. We’re going to go to Duke, then we’re going to go to Louisville and then we’re probably going to go to Michigan, that’s the plan. We are going to wait to set any more dates until we’re back from the first two visits.