After graduating in three years from Syracuse University, 6-foot-6 guard Tyus Battle is now one of the more intriguing two-way prospects.
He finished Top 5 in points per game among all players in the ACC two years in a row and is a versatile athlete who can also switch on defense and guard multiple positions in the backcourt as well. Battle has shown an ability to run an offense as a point guard, score in transition and shoot off the dribble.
The NBA draft prospect caught up with HoopsHype to speak about why he has a role in the league moving forward.
I would love to hear about how you have spent your time since finishing up at Syracuse.
Tyus Battle: The offseason has been great so far! I’ve been working out in Los Angeles in the Calabasas area. I’ve been focusing on my jump shot and on my flexibility and getting to the basket, finishing at the rim, and my midrange game too.
Last year, you tested the NBA draft waters a little bit. How did that help you with your second go-around this time?
TB: Last season, it was a little bit different because I still had the option of going back to school. I wanted to get my degree. But this year, I don’t have that same worry and I can completely focus on the NBA. I wanted to get one thing done before moving on to the next chapter of my life last year.
What is some of the best feedback that you got from teams when you tested the waters last year?
TB: A lot of teams really liked my versatility. I’m a guy who can play multiple positions in the backcourt and on the wing. This year, they have been more impressed with my ability to run the point. We had times when our point guards were out so I had the opportunity to show that I can move the basketball well.
What were some of your goals when participating at the G League Elite Camp?
TB: That was a good chance to show what I can do and show my full game, especially the defensive side of things. I went out there and competed and it was a great opportunity for me.
I would love to hear about how your game will translate to the next level. What can you bring to an NBA rotation?
TB: I can get to the basket, get to the foul line, make shots and get to my pull-up jumper. But I think what I’m going to surprise people with is also my defensive ability. I think a lot of people have a negative connotation for the 2-3 zone defense. I know and I’m extremely confident with my man-to-man defense. Before coming here, that is what I was known for: as a defender. I think I can show that in my workouts and throughout this process. I’m a big guard and I can guard a lot of positions. I have good lateral movement speed and have good defensive instincts.
Your jump shot has always been productive but how has your comfort been from the NBA distance on three-pointers and off the dribble?
TB: Oh yeah. That’s always an interesting transition. But it’s just about getting the reps in and I’ve been putting in the work. I think it’s definitely going to pay off. I got put in a lot of isolation situations, too, and had to create my own shot. I made tough shots and ultimately figured out ways to either put the ball in the basket or get to the foul line. With the NBA spacing and not as much help in the paint and so many other great shooters and great playmakers, it’ll make that job even easier. People didn’t really think of me as a scorer but I proved them wrong.
The pick-and-roll is going to be a huge part of your game at the next level. How do you think that will look in the NBA?
TB: We used a ton of pick-and-roll offense and while there are still things to learn, that’s one thing I really love to do. I absorb things well and just take in as much information as possible and try to find out more about the game. If a team wants me to knock down open threes or take someone off the bounce or operate the pick-and-roll and find my teammates, I can do that all.
How confident are you as a playmaker and as a passer when running point?
TB: Oh, I’m extremely confident. It wasn’t all about being a scorer. I was trying to be aggressive to make things happen. If I drew multiple people, that meant someone or multiple people were open. So I always tried to make the best read whenever I was on the floor.
Do you think your game would look best in a fast-paced offense? You got fouled a ton while in the open court last season.
TB: I really love to score in transition and when the defense is on their heels and they have to get back, it’s the best way to either get fouled or get an easy bucket and make something happen. If I got the rebound and saw a chance to push the ball and get to the rim or find my teammates, I always thrived.
What were some of the achievements you have accomplished that make you most proud?
TB: My time at Syracuse was absolutely amazing. Everything I learned when playing for a Hall of Fame coach, that’s what kids dream about growing up. It was so great to have that opportunity. We made the NCAA Tournament twice and played some amazing teams, players and coaches. It’s something that I’ll always take with me.
How big of a role did coach Jim Boeheim play in your decision to go to Syracuse and how did he help you get to this next level?
TB: That played a humungous role in my decision. Everyone knows he has a ton of basketball knowledge, coaching for over 40 years. He taught me so much not only as a basketball player but as a young man – the importance of working hard, being resilient, working your way up through life and taking responsibility. I think my time at Syracuse really helped me grow as a man.
As one of the older players on Syracuse, what did you pick up as a leader?
TB: That’s actually what Syracuse helped me with the most. I grew up and became a leader. My freshman year, we had five or six seniors. But by my next year, I became that person and we ended up making it to the Sweet 16. And I became more vocal, more confident and got a better understanding of how to communicate with people.
When teams meet with you, what kind of impression are you looking to give to them?
TB: I’m a genuine person. I’m a hard worker. I’m a resilient kid. I really love this game and I feel like I show that every time I step on the floor. I just try to treat people with as much respect as possible. I put in everything I have into what I am doing both on and off the court. I’m going to be able to graduate in three years with a degree in information and technology, which was not easy. I took 18 credits both semesters.
That’s very impressive. What did you take away from your degree in technology? You should try to get in touch with Chris Bosh! He’s very similar.
TB: That’s the way the world is going. You look at sports, business and so many other places and it’s everything. I’ve learned four coding languages so far: SQL, CSS, R and Python. I really enjoyed it.
What are some of the other things you are involved with outside the basketball court?
TB: I love playing video games. I play a lot of Call of Duty. I’ve played that since seventh grade. I’m pretty good at that and I think people say that when they play against me, too. I played against my teammates, Fortnite and League of Legends. My teammates are like my brothers. We were always hanging out. I love watching movies. I love Gladiator and The Dark Knight. I love superheroes. I watch a lot of TV shows. I love Game of Thrones, it’s my favorite show. I hang out with my friends and my family. I’m a laid-back guy off the court.