When you’re from a household in which there was one player that played on the Division I level before you, some may think there’s pressure attached. However, when one has their own confidence and has the will & determination to succeed on the court, there’s no telling how high they’ll go.
Enter Khalif Battle. The 6-foot-5 rising senior guard is one of New Jersey’s most elite high school players in the Class of 2019, and shows plenty of athleticism and also versatility when he is on the court.
When asked what makes him want to be successful on the court, he replied, “Just my love for it, I grew up playing [basketball], my mom, I want to do it for my mom, my dad, my family, just to be the best.”
Battle looks to make a move in a game against St. Benedict’s Prep. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)
Battle hails from Livingston, New Jersey, which is in the southern part of the Garden State. When asked about the basketball culture, he said, “The culture is, either you’re gonna swim or you’re gonna drown, our basketball is probably the best basketball in the country, and if you don’t do well, you’re going to get noticed for it.”
Growing up, competition was fierce in the Battle household. Especially, with his older brother, Tyus Battle, who is now a rising junior at Syracuse University, and was a highly-recruited player during his high school days at St. Joseph-Metuchen and Gill St. Bernard’s.
When asked about the sibling battles when they were growing up, Khalif Battle said, “My brother, he kind of paved the way for me to be successful, and he’s my favorite player, so he’s somebody to chase after.”
This past season, Battle averaged 17.3 points per game as a junior at Trenton Catholic Academy, and led the Iron Mikes to a 20-10 record an appearance in the NJSIAA South Jersey, Non-Public B title game. When asked about how he felt about his season, he replied, “My junior year didn’t go as I wanted it to go, I averaged [almost] 18 points per game, this year, I’m looking to step it up and I hoping to get Gatorade Player of the Year.”
Battle showcases his defense in a game against St. Benedict’s Prep. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)
This past spring and summer with the New Jersey Playaz, he averaged 13.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists on the Nike EYBL circuit. When asked about the experience of playing in a league such as the EYBL, he replied, “The Playaz is great, I left Team Final to go to them, great organization, I love Jim [Salmon], I love my coach Chico [Johnson], and I love playing with all my teammates.”
Most players like to wait until their senior season to commit to a school, whether it is before the Fall signing period in November or the spring signing period in April. Battle chose to do something different. On May 4th, he decided to choose Butler University, where he will begin playing collegiate basketball in the 2019-20 season.
When asked why he chose the Bulldogs, Battle replied, “Instead of waiting, I had other offers, like Miami and all of that. I took visits to UCLA, USC, but I felt like, Butler in all aspects is better for me. I’m not sidetracked by weather, girls, nothing like that, just the grind and basketball.”
Battle shoots a jumper during pregame warmups before a game against St. Benedict’s Prep. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)
When the final NCAA Live Period commences next week, Battle will be putting in work in the gym, while also showcasing his talents on in a couple of events in New York City, such as in the Dyckman Tournament with Skull Gang, and also with Team Dyckman in the New York vs. New York Tournament.
And as for his senior season, a couple of goals remain, the chance at making the Tournament of Champions and winning the title and also being able to win the Gatorade Player of the Year Award, which is the highest honor to be won in the state.
After that, all of the Butler faithful and the rest of the Big East Conference, will be introduced to the name, Khalif Battle, once and for all.