Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Stephen Battle Signing Article
Kudos to A.J. Mason from The Independent newspaper in southern Maryland for forwarding to me his story on recent GU signee Stephen Battle. The text is below; the photo of the signing ceremony is on the right.
Ready for the next Battle
Thomas Stone graduate signs with Gannon Univ.
By A.J. Mason, Staff Writer
For four years on the basketball court, Thomas Stone forward Stephen Battle battled through workouts, games, practices. And for the last two, he was the most dominating big man in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.
Now, Battle, a recent graduate, will face even bigger battles at the collegiate level as he recently inked his letter of intent to play at Division II's Gannon University. The institution is located in Erie, Pa., and holds more than 4,000 students.
"It was the position that they said I would play and the coaching staff said that if I'm ready to play, then they would put me in," Battle said on what led to his decision to head to Gannon, a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. "We will run sort of a motion offense and I can step out and use my athleticism, so I'm definitely ready for the next level."
Battle will be playing under Gannon head coach John Reilly, who was very high on the 6-foot-6 swingman who was a force this season, averaging 17.5 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks a game. He also showed his touch from three-point range, knocking down nine of them, and shooting 72 percent from the free-throw line.
A three-year starter for Thomas Stone head boys basketball coach Dale Lamberth, Battle will be able to shoot, defend, attack the rim with his potent jumping ability, rebound and pass out of double teams.
"Coach Reilly invited me to his house on the first visit," said Battle, who visited Gannon in April. "He just made me feel at home and I was comfortable after that. The campus was very traditional and everyone up there was like a family."
Quinnipiac (Conn.), Delaware State, St. Francis (Pa.), Central Connecticut and Cleveland State (Ohio) were schools at the Division I level that were interested in Battle, but Gannon was just the perfect fit.
"The main thing that I want to bring to Gannon is intensity and momentum," said Battle, who led the Cougars to a SMAC title this winter and a third consecutive state tournament appearance. "I want to continue to work hard and prove myself every time I step on the court."
Battle's older brother, Mike, who played guard at the University of Central Florida from 2005 to 2008, knows the ropes of the college level and often give pointers to his younger brother. "He has to set goals for himself and the team," Mike Battle said. "The main thing is keeping up on his schoolwork because you can't play without the grades. Stephen has to stay humble and keep working hard and beat the next man out for a spot."
The older Battle mentioned that along with improving on every aspect of his game, he wants his brother to improve on his pull-up jump shot and be more aggressive at all times. "I've been watching him his whole life," Mike Battle said. "It's definitely a good thing to see how he developed over the years into the player he is now. He's put a lot of work in, and the hard work has paid off."
Lamberth and Mike Cole, Battle's AAU head coach for the Southern Maryland Mustangs, helped him make his decision on Gannon, along with his mother, Sheila, and father, Michael.
Sheila Battle mentioned that her son will do just fine on the next level, but just has to continue to develop and step it up even another notch. "At the next level I think he will do well," she said. "There is always room for improvement and Stephen was more like a team player in high school, but I told him at the next level, ‘You have to go,' and when the game is on the line and the coach tells you to take the shot, you have to do it. Having the green light is hard to get at any level."
Battle noted that he is undecided about his major, but wants to get into the marketing and advertising field.
While going through battles in high school practices, Battle now will go up against teammate Kendal Smith, who signed with Bloomsburg University, also in the PSAC. "It's going to be fun playing versus Kendal," Battle said. "On the court, we won't like each other, but after it's all said and done, we will still be friends."