Dedication to shooting routine paying off for CU Buffs’ Evan Battey

Fifth-year senior showing improved touch early

University of Colorado Boulder's Evan Battey ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
University of Colorado Boulder’s Evan Battey (No. 21) collides with University of Maine’s Chris Efretuei (No. 21) at CU Events Center in Boulder on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

When Evan Battey was sidelined during his true freshman season — first by NCAA bureaucracy, then by a serious medical issue — he was forced to do more sitting and watching than he preferred.

Even though he wasn’t able to participate, Battey observed a workout at the end of each practice for the Colorado men’s basketball team that became a valuable lesson.

At the south end of the floor at the CU Events Center, after most of his teammates had retreated to the locker room, Battey saw former Buffaloes star George King putting himself through meticulously detailed shooting drills.

The routine paid off. After an unheralded start to his CU career, King emerged from a redshirt season during his true sophomore year to win the Pac-12 Conference Most Improved Player award, eventually becoming a 1,000-point scorer and a second-round pick of the Phoenix Suns in the 2018 NBA draft.

Now it’s Battey who has taken over the south end of the floor for post-practice shooting drills. And, like King, the extra work is paying off.

As the Buffs regroup from their 2-1 showing at the Paradise Jam to set their sights on Sunday’s Pac-12 Conference opener at home against Stanford (5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks), Battey, now a fifth-year senior, has displayed an improved outside touch while providing consistent contributions and leadership for what largely is an inexperienced rotation.

“I always shot at practice, but as you go through the years you try to find ways to go and give yourself an advantage,” Battey said. “Try to find things that work for you. I started shooting on that (south) basket after George King left, because he shot at that basket after practice. I don’t know what exactly he did, but I know the work pays off. As long as I keep taking it seriously, it’s all game reps. But I’m not concerned about that. I’m concerned about making plays for my team and being there for my teammates.”

Battey didn’t take up the shooting regimen this season, as it’s been part of his routine for the past few seasons. But the extra work put in with solitary focus clearly has been on display on game night.

Despite an off night during Monday’s win against Brown (6-for-15, his first sub-.500 shooting effort this season) Battey still will take a lofty .611 field goal percentage into the Pac-12 opener. For the first time in an already solid career Battey is connecting consistently with his mid-range jumper, and he also is 4-for-7 on 3-pointers after entering the season with a career mark of 11-for-50.

Battey earned a spot on the Paradise Jam all-tournament team after averaging 15.3 points with a .529 shooting percentage during the three games. Battey also went 9-for-11 at the free throw line.

Soon, Battey will make history. His effort in the Virgin Islands left him with 981 career points, putting him on the cusp of becoming the 38th player to reach the 1,000-point mark in CU men’s basketball history. His 2017 recruiting class already is the first in program history to boast three 1,000-point scorers — McKinley Wright IV, Tyler Bey, and D’Shawn Schwartz—and when Battey puts that class in an even more exclusive class by itself, the dedication to his daily routine will be a big reason why.

“I feel like it’s the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life as far as my personal game,” Battey said. “I just want to get in the gym and work on my game. I’ve worked on my game a lot and it’s really showed. Looking back on it in previous years, I’m asking myself why I didn’t work on my game this much in my freshman, sophomore, junior years. But I find a way now when my team needs it, so all is good.”