Jamison Battle Prepared to Lead Ohio State As He Enters His Final March As a Collegiate Player

By Andy Anders on March 1, 2024 at 1:35 pm
Jamison Battle
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Jamison Battle doesn’t know how much longer his college basketball career will last, but it's not long.

The fifth-year senior will have exhausted his eligibility at the end of this season. Across those five years, despite consistently great individual scoring and shooting numbers, Battle has never experienced an NCAA Tournament or – before this campaign – been part of a team with a winning record.

That’s why, after getting some time for his appetite to swell while he sat with an ankle injury against Michigan State, Battle came out with an even greater intensity than usual on Thursday – all in the absence of star point guard Bruce Thornton.

“It was just an urgency,” Battle said. “Obviously, Bruce wasn’t playing, and not playing last game and the way the guys picked up each other, I felt like we had to have that same type of energy. There is a sense of urgency. I’ve got three guaranteed games left of college basketball. My goal is, we’re gonna do whatever it takes to win all those games and maybe even more.”

Battle collected a season-high 32 points to propel the Buckeyes past the Huskers, 78-62, but his words speak to a team-wide mentality for Ohio State.

After a season filled with heartbreaking losses, a change in leadership and other adversity, the Buckeyes enter college basketball’s calling-card month winners in three of their last four games with real momentum on their side.

“If you just look at the calendar, it’s February 29th today,” Battle said. “Tomorrow is March. I think that’s the biggest thing, is the madness begins tomorrow. We’re not ready to fold, we’re not ready to go home and I think that’s the mentality that we have, is like, ‘March is upon us. Let the madness begin.’”

Interim head coach Jake Diebler said he saw Battle take charge of things even while not on the court against the Spartans. Despite missing the former Minnesota forward’s contributions, the Buckeyes pulled out a buzzer-beater win 60-57.

“He’s so bought-in to what we’re doing and finishing this well,” Diebler said. “I love his aggressiveness. I think I told some people during the Michigan State game, that even though he wasn’t playing, his voice was so valuable for our team. And you just felt his presence, which I thought was really impressive and spoke volumes about where his head was at.”

Battle took about two minutes to back his words with actions against Nebraska. That’s the time that passed before he nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 3-3 early. He proceeded to score each of Ohio State’s first 11 points, hitting two more threes despite strong contests from the Huskers’ defense.

When he hit an 0-for-6 cold stretch from downtown, Battle shifted his offensive focus toward the rim and collected 12 of his 15 second-half points off of mid-range jumpers, layups and free throws. He put a bow on his performance with a floater that made the Buckeyes’ lead 77-67 with 1:32 remaining.

“I thought he read the game at a really high level,” Diebler said. “He took the right shots from three, but then he also attacked when it called for it. That was probably the most impressive – him going 10-for-10 from the free-throw line was really good too – but the most impressive thing to me was his decision-making on the catch, whether to shoot it or drive it. That was high level.”

Battle remains Ohio State's second-leading scorer on the season with 14.8 points per game and the most accurate three-point shooter in the Big Ten, knocking down 43.3% of his attempts from distance.

Of course, he wasn’t the only Buckeye playing with an extra fire. Freshman forward Devin Royal built off a career-high 14 points against the Spartans with 12 versus the Huskers. Sophomore guard Roddy Gayle Jr. collected 16 points with a career-high 10 rebounds.

“I think we all just played with a certain edge to us,” Gayle said. “Kind of that nastiness that we talked about at the beginning of the year. It’s come alive. Miracles are made in March, why not be the underdog?”

"Miracles are made in March, why not be the underdog?”– Roddy Gayle Jr.

The way his teammates coalesced after Chris Holtmann was let go allowed them to go out and win back-to-back games without star players, Battle explained.

“It’s the adversity we faced when Coach was fired,” he said. “In adversity, how do we respond? I think I’ve talked about this every time I’m up here (for an interview) is response and staying present in the moment. So I think that’s what we’re doing. We’re a collective group, and with that, in adversity, you’ve gotta band together as brothers. I think that’s what we’ve done so far.”

Now it’ll be about maintaining that aggression and togetherness against Michigan on Sunday, Ohio State’s final home game of the season. Before the public watches that contest, Diebler is looking for his team to keep up its high-level practices behind the scenes.

“Whether it’s been the emotional win against Purdue, the emotional win against Michigan State and how that game ended, we have practiced well consistently,” Diebler said. “That’s the most important thing. Our guys are playing aggressively, I think there’s a great deal of belief right now, which is important. But I expect us to practice really well leading into the next one because the focus has been, ‘One day at a time.’”

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