Basketball Recruiting Notebook: Coach compares Battle to Kyrie Irving, Kennard Considering Visit

By Mike Young on March 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Pro comparisons aren't typically fair to high school athletes.

As well as they have played in their freshman seasons, neither Jabari Parker nor Andrew Wiggins are the "next LeBron James." When Gill St. Bernard's (N.J.) head coach Mergin Sina says one of his players reminds him of Kyrie Irving, however, he's not off-base. 

"By the time he graduates, I compare [Tyus Battle] to a longer, bigger Kyrie Irving," Sina told Eleven Warriors. "I wouldn't make that comparison if I didn't think so. Does he have to work? Of course, he has to get there. For a sophomore, the upside is unbelievable."

Sina knows the Cleveland Cavaliers star from Irving's high school days in New Jersey. Battle will graduate in 2016, leaving two more seasons to improve under Sina's watch and live up to those comparisons.

For now, Battle is a 6-foot-5-inch, 185 pound wing with offers from Ohio State, Connecticut, Indiana, Syracuse and Villanova, among others. According to 247Sports' composite rankings, he is a five-star prospect and eighth, overall, in his class. 

"I look at him as a 'one,' 'two' and 'three.' He does everything at one of those positions," Sina said. "He can handle the ball well enough where he can run a team. Off the ball, he's good enough to score and can also slash. With his first step, there's not many kids around that age with that kind of quickness" 

Sina played college basketball at Seton Hall and Rhode Island, so he knows what it takes to be a Division-I athlete. Gill St Bernard's is also a college-preparatory school, and that carries over to their basketball program.

"We run a lot of sets, we scout a lot of people, we teach these kids how to play at a high level," Sina said. "He plays for a team that's not, right now, one of the top 20 in the country, but what it allows him to do is fight every day and work through hard situations. Most kids that play at these big programs and have eight Division I players on their team beat other teams by 50, but what do the kids get out of that?"

Buckeyes assistant coach Greg Paulus watched Battle play in February. Gary Battle, Tyus' father, spoke to about OSU's interest in his son.

"Paulus thought Tyus was much improved since his last visit," Gary told, in February. "He loves him.”

The Battle family will have to reschedule a visit to Ohio State, as they originally planned on attending the game against Michigan State, Sunday. According to's Adam Zagoria, Gary said Tyus did not attend the game. 

That shouldn't affect the staff's interest in Tyus, considering his immense talent. If his high school coach's words are any indication, he would also fit the mentality of a Thad Matta coached squad. 

"He gets along with his teammates, works hard in the classroom," Sina said. "I don't mean that because I'm coaching him, he's one of the best kids I've seen in a while, in terms of attitude. He really gets it." 

Battle's certainly improved since the summer of 2013, but here's a highlight reel from that time (via Iowa Elites): 

Kennard Planning Another Visit to Ohio State spoke to Luke Kennard's father, Mark, who said his son will check out the Ohio State campus on another visit.

"We do have one tentatively scheduled for Ohio State in April," Mark said. "Other than that we don’t have anything scheduled."

Luke attended the game against Iowa, Jan. 12, and went to a football game in the fall. Neither of those were official visits, although there's no indication whether an upcoming trip would be, either. Luke's hometown of Franklin, Ohio is only about an hour and 30 minutes from Columbus. 

The 6-foot-5-inch guard recently visited Duke and has offers from Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan and North Carolina, in addition to OSU. 

Tatum Also Wants to Check Out Columbus

Jayson Tatum, a five-star target in the 2016 class, has not seen Ohio State's campus but he hopes that changes soon.

In his USA Today blog, Tatum wrote about his recruitment and his team's loss in the Missouri state playoffs. The St. Louis native will plan unofficial visits soon.

"I had been 100 percent focused on my season, but I definitely want to take some visits after the NCAA Tournament," he wrote. "There are a lot of schools that I haven't visited yet, like Ohio State is one that I definitely want to check out. Duke and North Carolina, as well."

According to 247Sports' composite ratings, Tatum is the No. 4 prospect in his class and has offers from Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Missouri, as well as the Buckeyes. Right now, he's just enjoying the process.

"It's funny because everyday people ask me where I'm going to play in college; the kids at school, the teachers and even the lunch ladies," Tatum wrote. "It's pretty crazy, but I don't mind. I'm used to it."

Around the B1G

Outside of Ohio State and Illinois, the Big Ten is off to a slow start with the 2015 class. 

Within the past week, though, Iowa picked up its first junior commit. According to his AAU coach, Brandon Hutton is now a Hawkeye pledge. Hutton, a composite three-star recruit, spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about his commitment. 

"It was coach McCaffery that really separated Iowa from the rest of the schools that were recruiting me," Hutton told the Sun-Times. "He gives all his players opportunities, from the freshmen to the seniors. Plus, there is a family bond there. You can just see it."

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