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Most Important Buffaloes: #3 Evan Battey

The sophomore forward is primed to break out.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-Colorado vs Oregon State Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Buffaloes have two established stars, but they just might have a third waiting to break out. That third star could be D’Shawn Schwartz, whom I wrote about earlier today, or it could be Evan Battey, whose game is completely unique. It could even be both breaking out, which I think will happen, even they don’t become all-conference stars.

Evan Battey committed to the Buffs as a burly power forward with rare skills for his size. According to his high school tapes, the 6’7, 270-lbs. forward was gifted with the ball in his hands, especially as a passer. We had to wait a long time to see that in person, because the NCAA ruled him ineligible because he repeated ninth grade. Then during his redshirt season, he suffered a stroke, which hurt his speech and mobility. But Battey recovered from all of that, remained as positive and mentally strong as ever, then spent the following offseason going from pudgy to jacked.

It took him a little while to adjust in his redshirt freshman season, but that was expected considering he hadn’t played competitive basketball in nearly two years and — it’s worth repeating — had suffered a damn stroke only ten months prior. Once he was adjusted, it became obvious that Battey is going to be a star one day. He’s massive, strong as hell, has excellent basketball smarts, and he’s so versatile that he can beat you in different ways.

Battey was born to play in the post, where his wide ass creates caverns, and where his passing ability unlocks cutters. And obviously with an ass like that, he’s the best screener on the team; he’s a threat to roll or pop, considering his solid shooting touch and his ability to make plays on the short roll. Then on defense, he knows that he just has to stand somewhere smart to valuable. No one is going to attack his area, especially if he’s taking charges, which he loves to do. He’s a good rebounder and throws gorgeous outlet passes that will be more and more common if the Buffs do indeed play at a fast pace.

For Battey to become a secondary star, he doesn’t need to add anything to his game as much as he needs to improve slightly at the things he already does. That’s going to happen. He’s in the best shape of his life, fully adjusted to major college basketball, and he has the utmost confidence in his abilities. (He’s going to become a star in the future. We’re just hoping it’s this year and instead of when he’s a 24-year-old senior.)

Tad Boyle is going to feature him heavily in the gameplan. The Buffs are going to run most of their offense through McKinley Wright pick-and-rolls and Evan Battey in the post. I’m expecting Boyle to keep one of Wright or Battey on the floor every minute (in non-blowouts) because the Buffs don’t really have any other playmakers. That could make Battey indispensable, even if the Buffs have a lot of depth in the frontcourt. We will find out soon enough how difficult he will be to stop, how much offensive responsibility he can handle, and if he and Tyler Bey will be a formidable defensive frontcourt.