Two summers ago, Evan Battey arrived at the University of Colorado with the knowledge he likely would be ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA ahead of the 2017-18 season.
Last year, Battey spent the offseason completing his recovery from a stroke in December 2017 that turned his redshirt season into a much bigger trial.
This upcoming summer, finally, Battey is a fully healthy, contributing member of the Colorado men’s basketball team. And he is eager to take advantage of his first offseason with the Buffaloes without any controversy or inescapable adversity hovering in the background.
“It’s exciting because I know I have a responsibility to this team to really work hard,” Battey said. “We all do. I know what I contribute — the energy, the strength, the passion — has to be there next year. What I need to bring to this team, this team needs as a constant.
“I’ll be working hard on my outside game. I didn’t really show that this year. I showed glimpses of it, but not really the full potential. Coach Boyle says I can really be that inside-outside guy and I’m really working towards that.”
After spending two full seasons on the sideline — Battey was ruled ineligible his senior year in high school and in his first year at CU because he repeated the ninth grade years earlier — it was easy to question how the 6-foot-8, 264-pound Battey would hold up through the rigors of a full college basketball season. That question perhaps was magnified by the fact Battey was completely shut down from basketball activities a year ago in the immediate aftermath of his stroke.
However, other than a minor back issue that cropped up in mid-February, Battey’s production improved alongside his fitness as the season progressed. The redshirt freshman started the final 10 games of the season and recorded the first double-double of his career with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the Buffs’ win against Norfolk State in the second round of the NIT. Battey averaged 8.1 points and shot .484 from the field, though he shot .507 from the start of Pac-12 Conference play through the end of the season.
“I thought he held up very well, and I think he got better as the season went on,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I think he got more comfortable, more confident in his body and his conditioning. This will be the first true offseason that Evan has had with the knowledge of what he has in front of him. And with the confidence level that he’s back to normal. That’s huge. The last two offseasons were truncated. They were not normal offseasons, full bore in the weight room and let’s get the conditioning and the body composition the way we want to have it.
“Certainly those were his goals, but there were so many other things that were on his mind, and there were limitations put on him. And he didn’t have the knowledge of what he was going to go through in terms of a full college basketball season. That’s exciting.”