It was a momentous Monday, as one of the best guards in the country declared on Twitter that he’ll be coming to Syracuse. Here’s the three most important takeaways:
1) “It mattered.”
This was Battle’s response to whether Mike Hopkins being named the official successor to Jim Boeheim factored into this. “He’s a great guy who will be a terrific head coach. I’m very comfortable and confident in Coach Hop.” Here’s the first major dividends being paid by Hop getting the public vote of approval. Even if Hop is an unknown as a coach, he’s a proven commodity as a recruiter. This shows the tide of top talent Syracuse has steered to the Hill won’t seem to ebb over the next few years. At the very least, it was an important early victory for the newly designed succession plan.
2) The NCAA sanctions haven’t crushed the recruiting pipeline
In the wake of the NCAA’s decision, the college basketball universe wondered if the limited scholarships and puncture to the national profile would cripple the Orange. This may have been a perfect storm, where one of the top players in the nation was within driving distance, and wanted to play closer to home. But the Orange landed a top 30 player nationally despite the punishments, and will make room for both Battle and #51 ranked recruit Matt Moyer for ’16. When you’re beating Louisville, Michigan, UConn and Kentucky to a kid, it’s impressive.
3) Battle’s a baller
When we discuss rankings and projections and class standings sometimes it’s easy to overlook what type of individual players make it all up. Battle is a tremendous scorer (22.5 per game as a sophomore – he was injured for most of his junior season). At 6′ 6″ he can crash the boards. And he’s a committed defensive presence. Battle says the coaching staff told him he’ll have the ball in his hands a lot. He could end up becoming the focal point of the offense pretty quickly.