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Tyus Battle closes out NBA Draft Combine with strong second day

Battle scored a Pistons interview, with a challenging infusion of virtual reality technology to the process, in an improved second day at the NBA Draft combine. Now we await his decision to stay or go.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Detroit Practice Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft Combine wrapped up in Chicago on Friday and after his Thursday was labeled a disappointment by one evaluator, Tyus Battle emerged with a bounce back day two. He set the standard among the participants in the shuttle run, at 2.86 seconds, and scored an interview with the Pistons.

Battle’s hopes of becoming a first round selection rest in uncertainty, as he’s continued to undergo the process without an agent which leaves the door open for a return to Syracuse. Strong physical measurements from the combine bode well, but his scrimmage statistics and skill evaluations yielded mixed results. The mock drafts are as varied, placing Battle across the late first and early-to-mid second round.

Those broad evaluations are less important than individual connections Battle makes through the process, and Battle appeared to score one through an interview with the Pistons on Friday.

Detroit tossed Battle and a number of other guards in the virtual reality headset, something we would assume Jim Boeheim never threw at him, and tested their decision-making.

“I was a little confused at first,” he said. “It’s a little different. It’s pretty cool, though. I really liked it. I’ve seen it on TV with video games and stuff like that. I’m a big video-game player, so I was excited to try it on.”

The Pistons do not own their own first round pick, due to the Blake Griffin trade, so they’ll select at 42nd in the second round. Their absence of playmaking and scoring punch at the guard positions make it an intriguing destination, but separating from the competition with 18 of the top 36 players likely being guards will be difficult for Battle.

Once the measurements were in, confirming his 6’6”-6’7” height in shoes at 200 pounds with a 6’9” wingspan and a gaudy four percent body fat the scrimmages hit Battle hard. Facing off with Josh Okogie and Gary Trent Jr., he shot 1-for-4 on Thursday with another half-court heave at the buzzer missing.

His stationary shooting fared better, with 80 percent splits across the three-point line except for the right break. He said in an interview with Magic media that he was looking to showcase his versatility, after his sophomore season for the Orange called for more scoring. He had not been interviewed by Orlando as of Friday afternoon.

The initial concern that Battle hurt himself by participating in five-on-fives was alleviated by then, as Battle flashed his ability to reach and convert at the free throw line in a 6-for-7 outing there in 20 minutes. He scored 12 points on 3-for-5 shooting, blocked two shots and presented himself better over 20 minutes.

Combined with his record shuttle run, 0.01 seconds ahead of Miami’s Lonnie Walker, top-20 lane agility (11.04 sec), top-five three quarter sprint (3.07 sec), top-15 standing vertical leap (32 in.) and top-20 max vertical jump (37.5 in.) he proved he’s on-par physically with any other competitor at guard in the draft.

The issue rests in the fact that his competitor list is a mile long; Grayson Allen, Tre Duval, Trent, De’Anthony Melton, Bruce Brown, Shake Milton, Alonzo Trier, Melvin Frazier, Jerome Robinson, Okogie, Donte DiVencinzo, Jalen Brunson and more.

That’s exactly what Battle needed to draw eyeballs. The clock now ticks as he has 10 days to stay in the NBA Draft and forego his two years of remaining eligibility at Syracuse. Over that span he can interview, work out and take medical tests with NBA teams in a de-facto extension of the combine. It’s likely at least one organization will follow-up with him in Chicago.

In a text to several reporters, his father Gary Battle touted his second day of testing pairing the rankings with “all facts no opinion.” The senior Battle has stated his son’s interest in graduating from Syracuse, but said going into the combine that his desire to jump to the NBA vs. staying with the Orange will weigh on his mind more than a first or second round landing spot.

After three days of testing, both things remain unclear.