Expectations are already rising for the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team’s 2018-19 season. And while we’ll likely choose to be optimistic either way, part of SU’s status as a potential top-10 team will hinge on whether or not sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle returns.
As slightly biased observers, we all see him and he certainly looks like he could be an NBA player next year. The standout put up over 19 points per game this year, played nearly 40 minutes per night, was second-team All-ACC and was a major catalyst for the Orange offense. His overall field goal percentage declined a bit year-over-year, as did his accuracy from three. But his free throw numbers went up, as did rebounds, assists and steals (and turnovers, as a result of higher usage).
You can see the argument for why he’d want to go, and there’s no begrudging him for that. His constant clutch performances for Syracuse these past two years only bolster his resume. Battle did score 15 or more points in three of his four NCAA Tournament games this year (including 19 against Duke in the Sweet 16).
And yet, he’s only included in one NBA mock draft right now. Basketball Insiders has him going to the Boston Celtics at No. 27, running Syracuse’s streak of first round picks to seven in a row (should it come to fruition). A quick glance over other others like Bleacher Report, CBS, Tankathon, Sports Illustrated, Dime Mag, the Ringer, NBADraft.net and FanRag all fail to include him. Many of those only list the first round, so perhaps he’s a second round prospect for some. But it’s a strange disparity to see him on just one (and so high for that site compared to the rest).
For Syracuse.com, Mike Waters seems pretty confident that Battle tests the waters, though Battle’s own account after last week’s Duke loss seemed to offer only minimal indication in that regard. Waters notes that Battle can get some evaluations from the NBA without hiring an agent (a smart recent change from the NCAA), and he’d expect Battle goes that route.
I’d have to agree there. Given that the rules allow for Battle to get opinions first, it would stand to reason that he’d at least give it a shot. We spelled out the reasons why he’d entice NBA teams above. And that’s without mentioning that he’s 6-foot-6 and over 200 pounds, and will likely be able to add some more size in an NBA weight room.
Obviously Battle put in an impressive year, but the other question for him would be what’s really left to prove on an individual level as a pro prospect. He’ll never see a higher usage rate than what he had this season. Battle will never be a larger part of the offense than he was this year. Even without the guarantee of first round money or even a draft pick, it might be worth it for him to just give the NBA a shot (even if that means working through the G League).
Battle hasn’t given any timetable for his decision, and one would think he might take his time there. Players all over the country have announced that they’ll declare, so it could be worth seeing who he’s up against first in terms of similar talents that could potentially knock him out of the first round or out of the draft altogether. He’ll have until April 22 to make that decision. Then, if he doesn’t sign with an agent, he’ll have until June 11 to withdraw (several weeks after the NBA Draft Combine).
Again, Battle seems likely to at least start the process, even if he doesn’t end up keeping his name in consideration. So let’s just be cool if he makes any sort of announcement in the coming weeks. As always, yelling at kids on Twitter is stupid.