On Wednesday afternoon, Syracuse guard Tyus Battle announced that he was withdrawing his name from the 2018 NBA Draft and returning to SU for his sophomore season.
“Although I may have been picked by the NBA team of my dreams, I feel it is in my best interest at this time to focus on improving some fine points in my game while continuing to work toward achieving my degree,” Battle said in a statement.
The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their thoughts on Battle’s decision below.
SAUGAT SEN: Like most Syracuse bloggers, I expected Battle to leave for the NBA this year, especially based on the numbers stacked against upperclassmen entering the NBA Draft. Still, none of that matters now that Battle is returning to SU. Now that the team is set for next year, what can we expect?
Syracuse will return all five starters from last year’s team. The last time this happened? Way back in 2004, the year after the departure of Carmelo Anthony. The starters were Gerry McNamara, Josh Pace, Hakim Warrick, Craig Forth and Billy Edelin.
Edelin left the team for half the season due to personal reasons and was replaced by Demetris Nichols in the starting lineup. Both returned next year, so technically Syracuse had its starting five back, even though Louie McCroskey ended up starting more games than both Edelin and Nichols.
Last year, head coach Jim Boeheim stayed with the same starting five for the last 17 games of the season after Marek Dolezaj took the spot of now departed Matthew Moyer. That type of continuity is unprecedented for Syracuse basketball and is going to make the tallest team in college basketball even tougher to score on next year.
How much better can Battle get? For starters, he will have more depth around him, so he won’t have to play 39 minutes per game. He will also be more efficient since he won’t have to shoulder such a high scoring burden.
Battle’s shooting percentages actually went down from his freshman year from 43 percent to 40, and his 3-point shooting from 37 percent to 32. Expect him to have a better statistical season even if he cannot improve on the 19.2 points per game.
WESLEY CHENG: As Saugat discussed above, Battle is going to be more statistically efficient this year, and that’s because he’s going to have a better cast around him.
Last year, Brissett, Howard and Battle accounted for 72.3 percent of SU’s offense, and Battle’s share on his own was 28.6 percent. That percentage should go down this year with new offensive options arriving.
Incoming freshmen Jalen Carey and Buddy Boeheim should be able to contribute immediately on offense, helping SU spread the floor and giving Battle more driving lanes. Dolezaj emerged as a reliable fourth offensive option late last season, and he figures to cash in on his upside in his sophomore season, especially with the defection of Darius Bazley to the G League.
Brissett and Howard figure to take steps forward, with Brissett a logical choice to take a leap into stardom and possibly the NBA after his sophomore season.
And that doesn’t include Elijah Hughes, the transfer from East Carolina, who many expected to take the place of Battle both in the lineup and also in terms of offensive ability.
A healthy scoring share for Battle will be around 20 percent, and as mentioned above, while Battle may not post 19-plus points per game, his ability to score efficiently will make him more attractive to NBA teams following his junior season.