It wasn’t the smoothest of transitions into the Colorado men’s basketball program for Evan Battey.
First, while his new teammates gathered in June to get acquainted and go through offseason conditioning drills, the 6-foot-8 big man remained in his southern California hometown of View Park, patiently awaiting his high school’s late graduation ceremony before he officially could be released to the next level.
Then, as the Buffaloes went through practices ahead of the team’s four-game trip through Italy, Battey suffered an ill-timed sprained ankle. While he still was able to enjoy the sightseeing portion of the tour, his first taste of collegiate competition was put on hold.
Battey is back in action now, a curious mixture of intrigue and potential wrapped in a 283-pound frame.
“It feels good, just getting in a rhythm,” Battey said. “Every day I get up at six to come in and get some treatment on my ankle. And then obviously with the team, just get into the building every day to get better. Like coach said, we’ve got to create habits. We’ve got to have those habits carry over. That’s what I’m looking for every day, just carry over building toward game-like situations.
“It’s real fun. It’s really a blessing to be here with these guys and really develop as a player and a person.”
While Battey still is listed at 283 pounds on CU’s roster, head coach Tad Boyle said his freshman forward has trimmed down to about 270 pounds. At either end of that spectrum or any weight between, Battey plays much lighter on his feet than his size would suggest. Like all five freshmen joining the mix this season for Boyle’s Buffs, Battey owns the sort of skill-set that could help CU immediately and yet, given his relatively late arrival and early ankle issues, he also could be a candidate to redshirt, particularly if CU’s coaching staff feels comfortable with the trio of Tory Miller-Stewart, Lucas Siewert, and Dallas Walton manning the front line.
Though, to be clear, no decisions on a potential redshirt for any of CU’s players will be made until the calendar moves closer to the Nov. 10 opener against Northern Colorado.
“He’s starting to get in shape now. He’s down to 270 now and he’s kind of shed that weight that he came in with,” Boyle said. “Tory is really the only one who can kind of bang with him here. Tory’s a big, strong guy, too. The thing that makes Evan special is he’s got the strength, he’s got the size, but he’s also got the touch.”
That touch is a big reason why Battey has the potential to make an immediate impact. He is a capable scorer down low with either hand and, perhaps more importantly for the Buffs, Battey owns a solid mid-range jump shot. That was ingredient sorely lacking last year among CU’s big men following the graduation of Josh Scott a year earlier.
“I think at the same time in their careers, Evan shoots the ball from the perimeter better than Josh (could),” Boyle said. “Josh was probably a better low-post scorer than Evan at the same stage. But Evan has got a chance to be really special.”