Marysville Pilchuck’s immensely talented basketball star RaeQuan Battle has the size, athleticism and upside that Division-I college basketball coaches look for in a top recruit.
The 6-foot-5 wing has done it all on the court during his high school career with the Tomahawks. High-flying thunderous dunks, deep 3-pointers and record-setting performances.
He’ll take those talents to the University of Washington next season.
Battle, a four-star recruit ranked No. 85 in the country by 247sports.com, averaged 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds per game during his senior campaign. For his efforts, Battle is The Herald’s 2019 Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“He’s the best player to ever come out of our school … He was the best scorer, lockdown defender. He’s like the most fun player I think I’ve ever played with and watched,” MP junior Luke Dobler said. “Just going back, I’m glad we have film of it — his highlights dunks. You can’t stop his jump shot. If he’s getting to the rim, he’s getting to the rim — there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Next up for Battle is a chance to play for a school he’s had on his radar for quite awhile.
“I always knew UW was in the back of my head ever since I was growing up,” Battle said. “Before I even committed to UW, you come to the games, our Native American fans — my family — are wearing purple to our home games.”
Battle was originally recruited by UW during the Lorenzo Romar era. After Romar’s departure in 2017, he had to impress a new set of coaches at the Huskies’ summer camp after Mike Hopkins and his staff arrived.
It didn’t take long.
“I kind of just took care of business,” Battle said with a laugh. “And I was just playing pretty well. They’ve been in contact with me ever since.”
Battle’s size and athleticism seem to be a perfect fit for the Huskies’ 2-3 zone defense, which he said MP used throughout the season.
Josh Gershon, a national recruiting analyst for 247sports.com, drew a comparison between Battle and UW’s top defender.
“You can see what Matisse Thybulle does at the top of Washington’s zone and you can certainly envision RaeQuan having a similar type of role,” Gershon said. ”… Obviously he’s not the same defender, but he certainly has the upside to be it.”
Battle noted Thybulle as a UW player he likes to watch, citing his intensity on the defensive end.
Gershon said that Battle was a late bloomer like Thybulle, emerging on to the national scene during the spring of his junior year. He drew comparisons to the pair’s size, length and athleticism, but noted that Thybulle came to UW already possessing elite defensive instincts and Battle enters with a more polished offensive game.
Even though Battle possess all the skills that have led to Division-I recruitment, it’s the humbleness and the way he carries himself on and off the court that his coaches and teammates are first to praise.
“He’s one phenomenal player. I think everyone sees that. Our coach always talks about his heart, and it’s true. He’s one of the greatest people you’ll ever meet,” MP junior Aaron Kalab said. “He plays at such a high level, but keeps his head down low and he loves each and every one of us. He’s bought in and he’s truly just an amazing person and player.”
Tomahawks coach Bary Gould said the example Battle sets has a cultural impact for the program.
“If you’ve ever had a chance to talk to him, he’s one of the first guys to defer credit to his teammates and talk about how his coaching staff or his teammates got him the ball or got him open. I think that he’s such a class act,” Gould said.
“… For Rae(Quan) to be that good and really that humble is just a really, really cool combination, and I think that sets the tone for the guys that got to play with him this year and even for our younger kids that got to be in the gym with him day in and day out.”
Battle left his mark on the MP record books in his final season. He helped the Tomahawks to a program-best fourth-place finish at the Hardwood Classic, set the team’s single-game scoring record with 43 points in an utterly dominant performance against Edmonds-Woodway — grabbing 23 rebounds in the process — and leaves with the Tomahawks’ career-scoring record with 1,667 points.
Gershon said he could see Battle having an instant impact of the court in Montlake depending of the Huskies’ roster composition next season.
“If you can shoot, that’s usually something that translates right away,” Gershon said. “Hopkins is obviously a very good defensive coach and certainly if (Battle’s) able to pick up what he’s supposed to be doing on defense right away, he could definitely have a role because the shooting part comes easy.”
Instant impact or not, Battle seems to be an intriguing prospect at the next level.
“I think there is a lot to say about his trajectory. You like late bloomers,” Gershon said. “You like guys that are entering college playing their best basketball that don’t have anything holding them back as far as athleticism, size for the position or a skill-set that’s necessarily limiting. I think that there’s a whole lot of upside to RaeQuan, there’s no question.”
Herald writer Cameron Van Til contributed to this story.