(Note: This is the third of a series of player reviews from the CU men’s basketball team for the 2019-20 season).
In terms of having his health, eligibility, and conditioning regimen all in line, last spring and summer marked the first true offseason Evan Battey has enjoyed since arriving at Colorado. He used it to build on his solid rookie season during his second year on the floor for the Buffaloes.
Like the rest of the Buffs, the 6-foot-8, 262-pound Battey was prone to bouts of inconsistency. Yet the redshirt sophomore forward made commendable strides in the areas most pertinent to his game — scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage.
Battey, who started all 32 games, ranked fourth on the team in scoring (8.9 points per game) and narrowly edged McKinley Wright IV for the No. 2 spot among CU’s rebounders (5.9). As a redshirt freshman last year, Battey averaged 8.1 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Battey also improved his field goal percentage, jumping from a .484 mark last year to .526 this season. His .532 shooting percentage in Pac-12 games ranked eighth in the conference. He led the Buffs with 84 offensive rebounds — 22 more than Tyler Bey, who averaged 3.1 more rebounds per game overall than Battey.
Battey posted six double-digit rebounding games and scored in double figures in 13 games, combining those marks with four double-doubles. Three of those double-doubles occurred in league play, including a 17-point, 10-rebound performance in a home with against Utah on Jan. 12 and a 14-point, 11-rebound effort in a loss at Oregon. He scored a season-high 20 points while going 10-for-11 at the free throw line in a home win against Prairie View A&M on Dec. 19.
While Battey’s interior defense continues to improve, his biggest challenge this past season was a familiar one, as he struggled at times to stay out of foul trouble. Battey fouled out twice — two more times than the rest of CU’s roster combined — and finished 11 other games with four fouls. Nearly every single one of Battey’s sub-par games (zero points and one rebound in a loss at Arizona, four points in a home win against Washington, one point at home against USC) can be attributed to extended time on the bench due to foul trouble.
Battey also experienced a dip in his assist-to-turnover rate. A skilled passer out of the post, Battey posted 44 assists against 38 turnovers a year ago, but this past season those numbers slipped to 32 assists with 39 turnovers.
Going forward, Battey should remain inked in as a focal point of the Buffs’ frontcourt. Off the court he shares the bulk of the leadership duties with Wright, and on the court his infectious enthusiasm is one of the X-factors for the Buffs in almost every game. CU needs that energy to remain on the floor more consistently.
Additionally, the possible loss of Bey to the NBA draft would put added pressure on Battey to pick up the slack in the post. Given his solid field goal percentage, Battey should be able to help replace Bey’s 13.8 points per game, but his biggest challenge will be to help offset Bey’s absence on the glass. If Bey does return, and Battey reduces his penchant for foul trouble, the Buffs will feature one of the top frontcourt tandems in the Pac-12.