Tyus Battle was as advertised last year. The number 35 recruit in the 2016 ESPN recruiting class canned a buzzer beater, looked poised on the defensive end and averaged slightly over 11 points per game on the offensive side. Battle proved he is a really solid ACC wing. However, now it’s time to find out the extent of Battle’s ceiling in his sophomore campaign. Can he score 20 points a game in ACC play? Can he shoulder the responsibility of leading a team while still being an underclassmen? The answer to both those questions will likely determine if Battle becomes a first round pick in next years NBA draft and if Syracuse goes dancing this year.
With the losses of Andrew White, Tyler Lydon, John Gillon and Taurean Thompson, The New Jersey native is absorbing a lot of pressure this year. He simply needs to be the guy for SU. There’s just not enough scoring outside of Battle for Syracuse to overachieve without him taking a second-year leap. On the bright side, there’s no reason to think Battle won’t rise to the occasion.
The sophomore proved he’s a respectable outside shooter last season. He knocked down roughly 36% of his threes in his freshmen season. That number doesn’t jump off the charts at you but it’s certainly something that will show up on opposing teams scouting reports. The difference this year is most of his three-point attempts are going to come in a different manner. Instead of shooting a lot of spot up threes from passes (think about that Clemson game winner), Battle is going to be shooting off the dribble a lot more. He’s going to be responsible for creating his own shot a lot more. The 6’6 guard proved he is a very solid mid-range shooter off-the-dribble last year. Battle now needs to prove he is able to create his own shot efficiently from beyond the arc as well because SU is likely going to lack three-point shooting.
SU’s leading returning scorer was tremendous as a freshmen and that has garnered himself some high expectations going into the season. But with more national attention comes more defensive attention. He is going to face a lot of double-teams this year. It’s time for Battle to prove he can handle the increased defensive pressure and scoring burden and still be relatively efficient. He needs to be the go-to-guy this year because he’s frankly the only option SU has.