Despite Missed Buzzer-Beater, Ohio State’s Jamison Battle Can't Help But Smile As His Collegiate Career Comes to a Close

By Andy Anders on March 27, 2024 at 9:32 am
Jamison Battle
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jamison Battle's reaction to missing the buzzer-beater that ended both Ohio State's season and his collegiate career wasn't the expected one.

A smile appeared on his lips as he slowly walked backward. His arms dangled at his sides contentedly.

"How can I be mad in that moment? I've played 100-plus games in college basketball," Battle said. "I've played for five years. I got to play at home. I got to play at Ohio State. I've played in the best conference in the (country). How can I be mad at that? How can I be mad at one single moment?

"That it comes to an end, yes. There's always gonna be an end to something. But I think over what I did in my college career, and the growth that I had and the times that I've had with so many people. And there are so many different people that I met. It's just a culmination of those things – you can never take that stuff for granted."

There was no frustration in Battle's postgame demeanor, despite the narrow margin of defeat in Ohio State's 79-77 loss to Georgia that eliminated the Buckeyes in the quarterfinals of the NIT. Only the satisfaction of a college career that saw him leave everything on the floor, as he did in a 22-point performance in 36 minutes against the Bulldogs.

Battle's first action after missing the shot was to go console his younger teammates who still have more to give.

"It's who he is. He cares about other people," Jake Diebler said. "You see that in that moment. It would have been very easy for him to lean into his own feelings and himself. But as he showed here down the stretch, he cares about others. And in that moment, when most people would have thought about themselves, he's thinking about other people."

Fittingly, Battle crossed the 2,000-point threshold for his career in his last game.

He spent his first two years at George Washington, scoring 17.3 points per contest in his second season before transferring to his home-state school, Minnesota.

"It's just exciting as a fifth-year because you've been there before," Battle said. "You've been in their shoes and understanding that you can't take it for granted. That's what I told these guys. That my five years went by fast. I remember going to GW as a freshman, June 2019 and I'm in 2024 now, so it's just a culmination of everything."

Battle's game continued to evolve with the Golden Gophers. He paced the team in scoring in 2021-22 with 17.5 points per game, then took something of a step back with 12.4 points per game in his last year in Minneapolis.

With the Buckeyes in need of wing scoring to replace Justice Sueing and Brice Sensabaugh from their 2022-23 outfit, Battle presented a clear fit after he entered the transfer portal this offseason. He ended up being Ohio State's second-leading scorer with 15.3 points per game and finishing second in the Big Ten with a three-point conversion rate of 43.3%. His previous best on a season was 36.6%.

Despite all that he's been through at his two previous stops, Battle said he had more fun this season than any other in his career. He's grateful, even if he never got to experience an NCAA Tournament.

"I'm so thankful that I had an opportunity to come to Columbus, such an immense university," Battle said. "I felt the support of fans these last however many games and in the end, I was just so blessed and so fortunate to have a five-year career in college, to score 2,000 points, to win some games, to play in the NIT."

“How can I be mad in that moment?”– Jamison Battle on smiling after his missed buzzer-beater

Not everything was smooth following his transition to Columbus.

The head coach who recruited him from the portal, Chris Holtmann, was fired on Feb. 14 after a 14-11 start to the season, going 2-9 following a 12-2 opening.

Diebler took up the mantle and led Ohio State to victory in six of its next seven games, but the Buckeyes fell short in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament to all but seal their exclusion from the NCAA Tournament. Still, two wins in the NIT to reach the quarterfinals provided plenty of positive memories for Battle in his final year.

Battle said the team's turnaround didn't surprise him.

"Not one bit. And I think that goes with the head of the snake in Coach Diebler," Battle said. "For what he did for us and the sense of urgency that he brought to us and the group of guys we have. We've known since the summer the group of guys we've had and how good we could be and we showed that this final stretch of games. It just sucks that we didn't have more time."

Diebler said that Battle is one of the top reasons for that turnaround.

"Jamison's leadership since the middle of February has been so critical to the success that we've had," Diebler said. "He's obviously a really good player, but he's taken his play to another level, played with that urgency and aggressiveness that we've talked about. But what's been most impressive for a guy that has been here for less than a year (is) his buy-in to Ohio State and what this program is about."

Ohio State came oh so close to turning things around against Georgia.

Trailing by as many as 13 points in the second half, it was Battle who scored eight points during the Buckeyes' 17-0 run to take a 70-64 lead in the final five minutes of action.

Georgia hit back-to-back threes to knot things up soon after, the first of two ties and three lead changes in the final four minutes of play. Battle and Thornton both got looks to give Ohio State a lead in the last 30 seconds before Battle's last-second heave landed on the front of the rim and fell right of the basket.

"In the end, every shot I take, I feel like is going in," Battle said. "It was just another shot. Got the hip turn that me and Coach Bailey work on every day and off the hands I felt like it was good. It rimmed out and everything kind of hit me in that moment – just to play college basketball for five years, I'm so fortunate and so blessed."

Battle doesn't know what his basketball future holds. He's going to take the next few weeks to recover and figure things out. But for now, all he can do is smile.

"You get to that point and you respond in that way when you know you've given it everything you have," Diebler said. "He's given it everything he had. So in that moment, he can reflect and say, 'Job well done.'"

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