Tyus Battle was one of the best players for Syracuse basketball over the last decade. The 6-6 guard averaged 16 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game during his career with the Orange. He helped lead Syracuse to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet-16 run in the 2017-18 season. That year he averaged over 19 points per game.
AllSyracuse.com caught up with Battle recently to discuss his recruitment, his time at Syracuse, Jim Boeheim stories, the buzzer beater against Clemson and more.
Q: How did your recruitment go down from your perspective with the decommitment from Michigan and ultimately signing with Syracuse?
Battle: "I committed to Michigan late into my sophomore year, I'm pretty sure. I'm visited Michigan, fell in love with the school, fell in love with the coaching staff. Fell in love with coach Beilein who's not just an amazing coach but also an amazing person. During that time, I didn't take my official visit to Syracuse. Before my college process, I promised my mom I would take a visit to all my schools and look at all my options before I committed. I decommitted from Michigan, took my final visit to Syracuse and just fell in love with the place. I went to a Syracuse versus Duke game and the energy in the Dome was just amazing. I'm from the east coast, it was only a three hour drive from Syracuse. To me it made the most sense and I think I made the right choice at the end of the day."
Q: How did the Michigan staff react when you told them?
Battle: "It was really hard for me to decommit because I'm such a loyal person. For me to just decommit like that, it's tough. They wished me the best of luck and it was fine."
Q: What do you remember most about your time at Syracuse?
Battle: "Definitely our Sweet-16 run. That was great. It was definitely an up and down year, but the way we finished out the year and we were able to make a run in the tournament. Especially being my first NCAA Tournament, that was an amazing experience. We played some really good teams, beat some really good teams. With that team, we just fought every game. I was just proud of that team, proud of that year. It was a lot of fun."
Q: Give me your best Jim Boeheim story.
Battle: "I remember two things. The game against Duke (2019 at Duke, Syracuse won 95-91 in overtime. Battle led Syracuse with 32 points). At Duke, my junior year. Before the game, ESPN had us as an 18 point underdog or something like that. We walk into the locker room before the game and coach puts down on the board -18. And he said, 'ESPN has us as an 18 point underdog to Duke today. I've never been an 18 point underdog my whole life.' Him saying that with how people perceived us at that moment, and we thought we were a very good team, I think that just fired us up. We went out there and got the win. Coach shows emotion, but with that, that really got our team fired up.
"The second thing was during my time at Syracuse, coach really didn't get on me too much. But against Georgetown at Syracuse, the first half I was playing terrible. I think I had maybe four points in the first half. He took me out during a timeout or something like that, and he looked at me and said, 'you're trying to score at the highest level and you can't even score against Georgetown?' That was the first time he really got on me, yelled at me, and that just got me going. I think I finished the game with 26 points. Coach Boeheim knows how to get the best out of his players and that's what makes him the coach he is."
Q: What do you remember about the buzzer beater against Clemson during your freshman season?
Battle: "It meant a lot to me. Anytime in that situation, it doesn't matter if I'm a freshman or before that, when the game is on the line, I'm locked in, I'm focused and I'm confident. It meant a lot that my teammates trusted me to make that shot, especially as a freshman. For me, I'm a confident player, especially in those situations."
Q: How much do you follow Syracuse now and were you able to watch their run this past season?
Battle: "I follow them a lot, especially during tournament time. I saw them a ton leading up to tournament time. I thought the run they made was amazing. Not a lot of people expected them to be there. I knew once they made it, if they got into the tournament, once they got there, once they won the first game they'd get it rolling. The way they were shooting it the first couple of games was amazing. Especially teams outside of the ACC aren't used to seeing the zone. People get really confused with that. I knew once they got to the tournament they were going to be successful.
Q: What do you think about Oshae Brissett's success with the Indiana Pacers?
Battle: "We definitely stay in contact. I actually spoke to him today (Tuesday). His game has improved so much. With the Pacers, he's really able to show his versatility. He's able to put the ball on the floor, shoot the ball, he's always been a great rebounder. He's just been making the most of his opportunity. For us players, when you get that opportunity, you have to make the most of it because usually that opportunity only comes maybe once and rarely twice. I've been extremely proud of him and it's been great to watch."
Q: What have you been up to since you left Syracuse and what's next for you?
Battle: "This past year I played in Russia in the VTV League. It's one of the better domestic leagues in Europe. It was definitely a learning experience. Not many people know but European basketball is very different than American basketball. So it was definitely a learning experience from that perspective. But as the season got going, I really started to understand the game better. My coach started trusting me more. Throughout the season, I really improved and I really enjoyed my time there. For this next season, my goal has always been to make the NBA. Everyone's path is different. Wherever I end up and whatever I do with my basketball career, my career in life, I'm going to try to excel at it. Hopefully that's in the NBA, but if it doesn't, at the end of the day I'm going to make the most of the opportunity."