Pikeville star has change of heart, will join Cards

Published 11:45 am Thursday, July 12, 2018

PIKEVILLE (KT) – Wyatt Battaile didn’t think twice about changing his college plans.

The Appalachian News-Express reported that the Pikeville standout recently committed to play college basketball at Morehead State but had a change of heart after the University of Louisville offered a scholarship. That’s all it took for Battaile to change his mind.

“It’s very special when you get a chance to play at a school like the University of Louisville,” he told he the News-Express. “It happened really quickly.”

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Newly-hired Louisville coach Chris Mack reached out to Battaile’s AAU coach and things escalated after Mack caught a glimpse of the Pikeville standout on video. A meeting between Battaile and the Cardinals’ coaching staff sealed the deal. It was then Battaile “jumped at the opportunity” to play for the Cardinals.

“We had a great meeting,” Battaile told the newspaper. “He was really straightforward. I loved what he had to say. He said that I wouldn’t just be a walk-on and that I would have a chance to earn a scholarship in the future.”

Pikeville coach Elisha Justice, who played for the Cardinals from 2010-12, said playing at Louisville “is a huge opportunity.”

“He’s worked his whole life for this opportunity,” Justice said. “I know he’s going to hear people doubt him and say he can’t play because I heard that too. He’s the type of kid who will use that as motivation to get better to prove he belongs and he can play at that level.”

Justice admitted the beginning of Battaile’s collegiate career will be a learning curve but is confident his former standout will succeed at the next level.

“Anytime you go to a program like Louisville it is tough to adjust,” Justice said. “You can’t prepare anyone for that. I can share my knowledge and help him get ready, but you can’t be fully prepared. One of the things I wanted to do was help kids get the opportunities to get to that level when I became a coach and share my experience with them to give them as much preparation as possible. It’s going to be a great experience for Wyatt (Battaile).”

As a senior at Pikeville last season, Battaille averaged 24 points per game and hit a game-tying 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime in a 72-69 win over John Hardin in the state basketball tournament. Battaile, a 6-foot-4 guard, scored more than 2,000 points in his high school career and connected on 193 3-pointers.

Battaile is looking forward to producing more memorable moments at Louisville beginning next season.

“I’m excited to be playing against the best competition and players in the country,” Battaile said. “It will definitely be a change, but I’ve played against some good players on the AAU circuit and at state, but this will be a huge step up. I’m looking forward to working hard and meeting the challenge.”