WEST ORANGE, N.J. — Tyus Battle sounded flattered and humbled when asked about Kentucky’s interest in him, as reflected by the news that John Calipari called Battle’s father and high school coach on Friday.
“It’s an honor,” the 6-foot-5 2016 guard said after going for 20 points Saturday when Team Inspiration lost to Team Bravery, 137-105, at the Mary Kline Classic. “[It's] early in this so it’s just an honor, I’m blessed.”
Battle reiterated that he plans to visit Kentucky June 17 “if we’re able to make it.”
Kentucky was well-represented at the game, a benefit organized by Alex Kline which raised $31,000 this year for cancer research and $86,000 over four years. Freshman big man Dakari Johnson, who played at nearby St. Patrick High School, was in the stands, and former Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, now with the Philadelphia 76ers, also made a cameo.
“It’s great,” said Battle, who averaged 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last season at Gill St. Bernard’s. “Coach Cal produces guys so it’s an honor.”
A slew of high-major programs are after Battle, who also plans to visit Michigan on Thursday and Villanova June 9.
As for Michigan, Battle said he likes “the way they develop their players. [Caris] LeVert and [Nik] Stauskas got so much better from freshman to sophomore years and [Tim] Hardaway [Jr.] got so much better in the NBA. So development.”
Villanova has a strong history of producing great guards, and that hasn’t escaped Battle, either.
“He lets his guards really play,” Battle said of head coach Jay Wright. “He lets his guards go and that’s a key thing.”
Syracuse, Duke, Indiana, Wake Forest and Maryland are among the other schools recruiting Battle, who feels he didn’t play that well on the spring AAU circuit and has more to prove in July.
“I know I could’ve played better,” he said. “I just wasn’t aggressive enough and I hope I pick it up this summer.”