I’ve been on the Tyus Battle bandwagon for a very, very long time. I’ve been shouting from the rooftops, urging people to listen to me when I tell them that the freshman guard from New Jersey is the most NBA-ready guard Jim Boeheim has brought into the program in ages. Yet somehow, from time to time, I still feel like I’m shouting into the void.
I sometimes feel like I'm shouting into the void when talking about how freaking good Tyus Battle is. Folks, he's not coming off the bench.
— OttosGrove.com (@OttosGrove) October 4, 2016
Yep, I’m repeating my own statements from Twitter yesterday. Mainly because it’s a statement I’ve been making for months, ever since Battle signed with the Orange after originally committing to Michigan. The 6-foot-6 guard is a prototypical shooting guard, who was ranked among the top 15 players in his class – in some rankings he was even rated among the top 10 – until injuries kept him off the AAU and camp circuits, leading to him plummeting down those same rankings.
What triggered my statement yesterday was the fact that Jon Rothstein visited Syracuse’s practice, and came away with a particularly intriguing quote from Jim Boeheim:
“Tyus Battle is as good as any first year player in the country.”
Folks, Jim Boeheim doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t play coy. He doesn’t inflate people who don’t deserve being inflated, or tear down people who don’t deserve being torn down. For better or worse, what Jim Boeheim is, is a guy who calls it like he sees it, and isn’t afraid to let the world know exactly how he feels.
And I can’t tell you how absurdly excited I am by the fact that Boeheim is openly supporting the same thing I’ve been trying to tell people for awhile now. The big argument now is how Boeheim will find a way to get all of his best players on the court, with many projecting Battle, as a freshman alongside guys like grad transfers John Gillon and Andrew White, to come off the bench.
Personally, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Jim Boeheim is not one to get so openly excited about the prospects of a freshman only to not put him on the court. In that last link, here’s how I described Tyus Battle:
“[He’s] nearly 6-foot-7, handles the ball well, is lightning quick, an explosive athlete, and a pure scorer. Battle is the prototype for an NBA shooting guard…”
I stand by that. Good lord, do I stand by that. Battle is an explosive athlete whose quickness seems almost unfair, given his long frame. I’m going to come right out and say it here: Battle could very well be the best freshman Syracuse has brought in since some guy named Carmelo Anthony. That’s how highly I think of him, and it’s why I don’t think there’s any chance he winds up coming off the bench.
Obviously, there certainly is a chance that Battle could come off the bench, though I think it’s unlikely. The rumors around his recruitment was that it was strongly hinted to him that if he signed with SU, he’d be on the court at the opening tip from day one. And that’s not a promise made just to get him to sign on the dotted line; he’s legitimately that good.
Of course, that was also before Syracuse added Gillon and White, and before word started trickling out about how much improvement Frank Howard has shown in the offseason. But if I were a betting man, I’d still wager that Kid Mamba not only starts, but wows fans and proves Boeheim right early on about just how damn good he is.
The last time I was this confident about a freshman being extremely talented and a little bit slept on was…well, it was last year with Tyler Lydon. But still, the point remains: Tyus Battle is really, really good. And I can’t wait to see him in action for the Orange.