Montana State guard RaeQuan Battle, a Marysville Pilchuck alum, celebrates after scoring against Kansas State during a first-round NCAA Tournament game on March 17, 2023, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Montana State guard RaeQuan Battle, a Marysville Pilchuck alum, celebrates after scoring against Kansas State during a first-round NCAA Tournament game on March 17, 2023, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Former MP star Battle announces transfer to West Virginia

After a big season leading Montana State to the NCAA Tournament, the senior-to-be will join the Mountaineers of the Big 12.

RaeQuan Battle’s next step is taking him to the Big 12, where he’ll get a chance to test his abilities against some of the top collegiate men’s basketball programs in the country.

The Marysville Pilchuck High School graduate, who entered the transfer portal after spending the past two years at Montana State, is transferring to West Virginia. Battle made the announcement Wednesday on his social media platforms, saying on Instagram: “More country roads? Morgantown let’s rock!”

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A post shared by RaeQuan Williams-Battle (@realraequanbattle)

This is Battle’s second transfer, as he spent his first two seasons at Washington before transferring to Montana State. He has one season of eligibility remaining.

Battle, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who was The Herald’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2019, is coming off a breakout junior season with Montana State. The past season he averaged a team-leading 17.7 points per game, shooting 47.5% from the field and 35.3% from 3-point range as he led the Bobcats to a 25-10 record and was a first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection.

Battle was even better in the postseason. He was named the Big Sky tournament’s Most Valuable Player after scoring 66 points in three games to lead the Bobcats to the championship and the first back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in school history. Then in the first round of the NCAA tournament Battle dropped 27 points as 14th-seeded Montana State lost 77-65 to third-seeded Kansas State.

After the season concluded Montana State coach Danny Sprinkle stepped down to become the head coach at Utah State, and last week Battle announced he was entering the transfer portal. Battle’s performances caught the attention of several top programs, with the likes of Alabama, Kansas, Texas and UCLA among the schools reported to have interest.

In choosing West Virginia, Battle joins a team with a strong history of success. Under coach Bob Huggins the Mountaineers made the NCAA tournament 10 times since 2009, including reaching the Final Four in 2010. Last season West Virginia finished 7-11 in the Big-12 and 19-15 overall, losing 67-65 to Maryland in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Battle also takes a big step up in level of competition. The Big-12 is arguably the most competitive men’s basketball league in the nation, with two of the past three national champions (Baylor in 2021, Kansas in 2022) hailing from the conference.

Playing time is available in West Virginia’s backcourt as starting guards Erik Stevenson and Kedrian Johnson, the team’s top two scorers, both exhausted their eligibility. Joe Toussaint, a returning fifth-year senior who averaged 9.4 points per game off the bench, is the only guard on the roster who saw significant minutes last season. The Mountaineers also added guard Kerr Kriisa, a transfer from Arizona, this offseason.

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