2018 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day: Evan Battey battles back from a stroke to suit up for Colorado
SAN FRANCISCO – At a quick glance, Colorado redshirt freshman Evan Battey would appear to be a curious pick for one of the two player representatives for the Buffs at 2018 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day. As his eligibility status of “redshirt freshman” would indicate at this time of year, Battey has yet to play in a collegiate basketball game.
But upon learning about Battey, he is perhaps the greatest story at Media Day this year.
Here’s the cliff notes version (there’s a great story by Pat Rooney of BuffZone.com that gives you more details) – Battey was unable to play his senior year of high school and freshman year of college as a result of repeating the ninth grade. While he was home for Christmas break last year, Battey suffered a stroke while playing in a pickup game.
After months of rehabilitation, Battey is practicing with the team. He says he is 100 percent and will be available to play in the Buffs’ exhibition game Nov. 3 against Colorado School of Mines and the season opener Nov. 13 against Drake.
“I haven’t played basketball for my school in two years, almost three. So I’m just really excited to be out there and be practicing again; to be out there and just play,” Battey said.
There was speech therapy. Physical therapy. Countless hours working on his reflexes and making sure his brain was sending the correct messages to his muscles again. Head coach Tad Boyle told Battey he could remain on scholarship even if he decided to never play again, which would have been completely understandable considering what he went through.
But Battey loves him some hoop.
“I decided to come back on my own terms, and I’m here now,” Battey said.
Boyle, for one, is happy to have him back on the roster.
“Evan is a special young man,” Boyle said. “To see him handle the adversity the last two years the way he has handled it – the grace, the attitude, the positive nature he has looked at everything. He’s had some tough days – there’s no doubt about it, but just how he’s handled both his health issue and having to sit out two years of basketball, and now he gets to play, which is what he loves to do.”
Battey is certainly a feel-good story, but he certainly will not make opponents feel good going up against him.
“Our football coach, Mike MacIntyre, before the team takes the field, always says: Welcome to the fight. You don’t have to welcome Evan to the fight,” Boyle said. “He’s going to bring the fight to you. He loves the physical nature of the game… He brings the fight to the court every single day and plays with great energy and great passion.”
After having missed the last two basketball seasons, it’s a sure bet that Battey will be fired up for Nov. 3 and Nov. 13; maybe even a little teary-eyed. After all, Battey said he got emotional at the team’s picture day three weeks ago when he put on a Colorado game uniform.
“On the first game, I can’t imagine not being emotional,” he said.