Tyus Battle to Syracuse Comment Count

Seth July 13th, 2015 at 1:01 PM


Five-star former basketball pledge Tyus Battle (Hello!) (Goodbye) has ended his recruitment; despite the sanctions, he's going to play for Boeheim.

So that sucks. Michigan was hard after both Battle and similarly ranked (just outside top 10) Alabama SF Josh Langford, and Battle pulled the trigger in May when it appeared Langford was about to take that option away from him. Beilein apparently thought that decision was earnest enough that he cut off pursuit of Langford, who committed to Michigan State three days after Battle reopened his recruitment.

When you play the game of thrones… There's of course going to be a lot of Michigan fans upset at Battle, and Battle's family, and Syracuse, and the world in general.

How Michigan went from a near-guarantee of one game-changing talent to none with a richer rival isn't complicated: Beilein is operating with honesty in an environment where most everybody else is just trying to get theirs. Because of the nature of basketball—small rosters and the sure effect of pure talent—winning a guy like Battle or Langford is highly likely to substantially change your team's prospects. Once you're into the extreme edge of 17-year-old basketball ability distribution, there aren't enough humans out there to start getting picky over which ones have nice families, a firm handshake, and a head for marine engineering.

This is known. We have a "basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich" tag for this reason. When you make a play for a guy who could make any team better, you're entering a cutthroat world where any weakness—including trust—will get exploited.

So we got Lannister'd, and it was cruel, and possibly avoidable. But before you go advocating poison (or worse, tweet at a recruit) remember that highly sought teenagers have to navigate the same sea of bullshit.

Obviously Battle was pretty serious in his interest in Michigan, since there seems to be little reason otherwise to keep the option open. Obviously Langford wasn't guaranteed to come here if Battle didn't commit, since an end to pursuit on Michigan's end was enough to push him to Izzo. Obviously if the same had happened to Izzo and Michigan was the beneficiary we'd be laughing right now.

How much do you wish this was different? The more people you meet, the more you'll realize they tend to expect everyone else to operate the way they do. Dishonest people expect dishonesty; the operating factor in "nice guys finish last" is nice guys tend to be surprised when the competition isn't so nice. Beilein has lost enough battles to Kentucky to know how the world operates outside his program, but the essence of Beilein is he's ready to trust because he's trustworthy. Sometimes this gets him burned, other times Mr. Basketball of Indiana finds it astonishingly refreshing. Take the good with the Battle.

What now? Michigan is still pursuing 2016 PG Cassius Winston, which hasn't changed, and has a scholarship offer to PG Quentin Goodin. They'll probably offer another wing now. That Beilein recognized Battle and Langford early enough to be a major player for their services speaks to a scouting ability that hasn't lost its edge. That same ability has served him well with late pickups Spike, MAAR, Dawkins, LeVert, and…

I trust he'll be a good one.



July 13th, 2015 at 1:05 PM ^

It's ok. Happy trails man. Now your pops can be a headache to SU. I think his dad pushed him to stay closer to home. It wasn't meant to be. Our team will still be good. Though it would've been guaranteed amazing with T Battle


July 13th, 2015 at 2:21 PM ^

I am guessing "pops" got some nice financial compensation somewhere and his son doesn't even know why he was so adamant about 'Cuse.  Oh, well.  I am just looking forward to the day when it's "legal" for everyone's boosters to pay money for recruits.  The parents might not deserve the money, but the kids do.


July 13th, 2015 at 11:59 PM ^

I'm sorry but why do we need to wish these kids success? I'm in sales and I'm probably too honest but my loss is someone's else success. Either your a capitalist or a socialist and everyone wins!! Braxton Miller loves OSU so he's staying and guess what he probably isn't making the best financial decision. Battle to the cuse sucks! I don't wish him an injury but why is it wrong to hope Levert, MAAR, Dawkins, and any other three star does better?


July 13th, 2015 at 1:13 PM ^

Certainly sucks.

Since I doubt we make the tourney without him. We are probably a bubble team without him, so I'm hoping for some JB magic next year.

But I guess we shouldn't be surprised. JB was never known to be great at recruiting high star guys (with some exceptions). If that means we stay clean, then I'm ok with that.

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Mr. Yost

July 13th, 2015 at 1:40 PM ^

We're in the tournament, no question.

I personally don't think we're as high as many of the folks on this board think...I see us in the #7-#10 seed role, similar to MSU and OSU last year. Mind you OSU won their first game and MSU got to the Final Four.

I see us as a team that peaks late and is underseeded and does well in the tournament.

If you ask the majority of this board, you'll get #4-#6 seed, which, right now...I just don't see. But it's July, who the hell really knows?

Jaylen Brown would've pushed us into the next level, IMO.

But the biggest point you're missing is this...HE'S CLASS OF 2016! He's not even playing next year.



July 13th, 2015 at 1:39 PM ^

Still wish Langford had jumped first. I think Langford is going to be better than Gary Harris and I think Tyus will have a Zak Irvin type career trajectory.


July 13th, 2015 at 1:26 PM ^

He's a talent no doubt but Seth's last paragraph encapsulates my feelings: he's a wing a position this staff has shown time and again that they can turn average to good players into superstars.

We'll be fine.

I'm expecting big things next year and then who knows. Take the good with the Battle indeed. Well played.


July 13th, 2015 at 1:26 PM ^

He's a talent no doubt but Seth's last paragraph encapsulates my feelings: he's a wing a position this staff has shown time and again that they can turn average to good players into superstars.

We'll be fine.

I'm expecting big things next year and then who knows. Take the good with the Battle indeed. Well played.

Edit: Double post negged myself.

True Blue Grit

July 13th, 2015 at 1:26 PM ^

days when we were bringing in multiple 5 star guys a year as long as Beilein is coach.  But we will also win more Big Ten titles than those coaches did.  So take your pick.  Coach B is the squeaky-clean honest guy trying to compete in recruiting in the wretched hive of scum and villainy that IS college basketball.  You either take the high road, or you jump down and wallow around in the slime with the Calipari's, Selfs, and Boeheims of the world.    I'm happy with where we are now. 


July 13th, 2015 at 1:36 PM ^

I'm not going to engage in this false dichotomy.  Michigan can win with 5-star talent and they can do it while being clean. I know this because I watched it.

They made the national championship game in large part because both their forwards were 5-star players - and they had NBA players at every position (and on the bench). They had two consecutive top 10(ish) classes directly preceding their success. They didn't cheat then and they won't cheat in the future. It's impossible to sustain that sort of talent without recruiting at an elite level.

We don't have to recruit like Duke or Kentucky, but we can recruit like MSU, Indiana, Ohio State, Arizona, Florida, UConn, etc.


July 13th, 2015 at 1:46 PM ^

With Beilein, he ain't just a nice guy.  He's a nice guy that's made it to the title game and gets you drafted.  So he's a guy who'll A) respect you, B) won't make a promise he can't keep and C) is probably your best bet to overcoach you into a first-round NBA draft pick.

If I was a 17-year-old kid all over again I'd crawl over broken glass to be coached by Beilein.  I'd have done it the first time around.  It's not just alma mater bias, it's "this guy will make me better and not have to rip my heart out to do it" bias.  I really have no idea what the hell anyone can dangle in front of a recuit that's shinier than, "This guy will get you into the NBA and he won't treat you like shit to get you there."  Who walks away from that?  I just dunno, man.  Then again, I've always been derided as old-fashioned, even as a kid, and learned that old-fashioned means "never was".

Yinka Double Dare

July 13th, 2015 at 2:22 PM ^

I think if you see what Tyus himself was saying, and then what happened, there's a pretty strong inference that Tyus wanted to go to Michigan and his parents basically made him go to Syracuse. Now why that is, we won't know unless someone spills the beans at some point, but Syracuse hasn't exactly been on the up-and-up (see, e.g., their current sanctions) so wondering what exactly transpired there isn't unreasonable. 

And I get the feeling that whatever was going on, Tyus had nothing to do with it himself. I think if it were solely up to him, he never even would have decommitted. 


July 13th, 2015 at 1:27 PM ^

that a kid has to navigate the same "sea of bullshit", I am one person buying into the concept that (in this case) the kid's Dad is one of the huge waves creating the sea of bullshit.

so for that, good riddance. certainly wish we had him, but since we don't -- and since they played a trusting and honest coach, I am pissed at the Battles, not the Michigan coaching staff.


July 13th, 2015 at 1:38 PM ^

maybe I should--it would help me think more clearly..

I guess "pissed" is too strong a word, and I don't blame the parents for being influential in the decision, just taking the spot that prevented the staff from taking Langford. Whatever--not really wishing any ill will or anything, I just think some parents play a roll in the culture that exists in BBall recruiting.

turd ferguson

July 13th, 2015 at 1:30 PM ^

Great post, Seth.  Honestly, if you told me that Michigan basketball could be coached by probably the cleanest coach out there (the chair of the Men's Basketball Ethics Coalition) - and be as competitive as we've been lately (e.g., two conference titles and a Final Four in the past four seasons) - I'd take that in a heartbeat.  Even if we don't get as many highs as a Kentucky or Syracuse or whatever, I truthfully wouldn't trade what we have for what they have.  College basketball is too gross to me to want to win at all costs.

Trip McNeely

July 13th, 2015 at 1:29 PM ^

But I trust what Coach B will do from here. I somewhat agree with what Jalen Rose said that we need the five-star guys to stay competitive. I don't think we need a five-star every class but one every two years helps for sure.


July 13th, 2015 at 1:30 PM ^

I hate how this turned out, as much as (more!) than the next guy.  But I REALLY hate the defeatist mentality around the fan community (see the 3 star comment) and the idea that Michigan can't compete (fairly) at an elite level for recruits.

They've done it, repeatedly, under different head coaches. INCLUDING Beilein! Michigan is an elite program. It has recruited like it - landing back to back top 10 (ish) classes that directly coincided with their NCAA tournament successes.

Michigan got Walton, McGary, Robinson, Morris, Irvin,Chatman etc. They've proven they can get top 100 recruits. Michigan has missed on Booker, Brown, Battle and others.  It happens.  You move on to the next kid.

2012 and 2013 they were very successful.  2014 and 2015 were classes were Michigan was unsuccessful (I know they still landed good players and all that, but they missed on almost all of their A-list guys two years in a row). Things need to get righted but there is still plenty of time for the 2016 class.  It's fine to be concerned but too early to start wailing.

Ronnie Kaye

July 13th, 2015 at 1:32 PM ^

"How Michigan went from a near-guarantee of one game-changing talent to none with a richer rival isn't complicated: Beilein is operating with honesty in an environment where most everybody else is just trying to get theirs."

Sorry but this is lazy thinking at best and very sour grapes at worst. What is there to suggest that the alleged dishonesty of other coaches and the honesty of Beilein is why Michigan ended up empty-handed in this situation?



July 13th, 2015 at 1:44 PM ^

Battle committed to Michigan precisely so Langford wouldn't. Battle was preserving his own option by lying to Michigan about whether they were his only choice. This protected him in case the sanctions at Syracuse ended up worse than they were. That, to him, was more important than playing straight with Michigan. That was the only dishonesty I was talking about, but I put it in the context of how many basketball coaches, the majority I would guess, do not play straight with recruits. Battle acted no different than most of college basketball acts all the time in recruiting.


July 13th, 2015 at 3:32 PM ^

The vast majority of kids are operating completely above board.  Kid wants the best situation for him, coach wants best situation for him; offer, commitment, player contributes to program, the end.

Contrasting Beilein's honesty with "an environment where most everybody else is just trying to get theirs." certainly sounds like you're saying a lot more than "only" Battle was dishonest here.  The next sentence is about "the nature of basketball".

Maybe that's not what you were intending to say and "everybody else" is just about Battle and the people around him, but the wording strongly implies you are saying something about the integrity of other coaches in general.


July 13th, 2015 at 3:51 PM ^

...You can't be trusted."

Ben Folds

Just elegant and powerful writing, Seth.

A day or two after Battle committed Sam Webb told me (and Brian and Ed Feng) that Langford was about to commit, but the Battle decision had forced Beilein to turn him away. That was unsettling to me, since I liked Langford as much or better than anyone in the class (of those I had seen), and at any position.

Michigan basketball will be fine. But it sure is frustrating to be rope-a-doped in this way. Battle, of course, should go where he wants to go. But to limit UM's opportunities with others seems, well, wrong. Even for a 17 year old.



July 13th, 2015 at 1:33 PM ^

The reason, I believe, is because nice guys stop to help those who need it along the way. They don't get the prize at the end of the race, but they get the respect of those around him. Also, I think Beilein will have a lot of people pick his brain because his style of offense is now what a lot of people are trying to copy after Golden State won the championship. There may be a coach who gleaned idea from him who will an NCAA championship. I really hope, even if he was not Michigan's coach, that he wins one before he retires just because he is so nice of a guy.

DJ DMoney

July 13th, 2015 at 1:37 PM ^

I feel the only thing that could make this salty and shitty situation any better is 2 guys, the names of those two guys are Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston. Period.