Men's Basketball, Sports, WVU Sports

Josh Eilert: Pro agents coming after RaeQuan Battle forcing player to choose between basketball and education

Josh Eilert’s concerns with the status of guard RaeQuan Battle, as the WVU men’s basketball coach discussed Wednesday night, go much farther than the NCAA.

In the aftermath of the Mountaineers’ 80-63 loss inside the Coliseum against rival Pitt, Eilert said there are other outside forces coming after Battle’s services.

“It’s almost like he’s being forced to choose between an education and the game of basketball,” Eilert said. “There are all types of people reaching out to him and trying to get him to go in a different direction.”

Battle was twice denied immediate eligibility this season after transferring to WVU from Montana State. Battle needs a waiver, because he’s a two-time transfer who has yet to earn a college degree. He began his career at the University of Washington, before going to Montana State.

The first denial came directly from the NCAA. Once WVU appealed that denial, the NCAA Committee for Legislative Relief again denied Battle a waiver for eligibility this season.

As it stands — unless something were to change in a court of law — Battle must sit out this season before playing his final year of college ball next season.

Which has apparently opened up more doors, in that now professional agents are contacting Battle, looking to get him to leave WVU in order to begin a pro career overseas.

“There are a lot of people within the game of basketball who want to profit off kids,” Eilert continued. “Certainly he can make money playing basketball — I don’t think that’s a secret.

“Yes, I‘ve had conversations with his mother and himself, and people want to profit off him. Agents, in particular, continue to hit him up and try to pull him away so he can play the game of basketball.”

As for the denial for eligibility, Battle made his reaction public on Tuesday in a video released by WVU.
“My name is RaeQuan Battle and this a message for the NCAA,” Battle begins the video.

Over the next two minutes of the video, Battle describes how much the game of basketball means to his life, including the story of losing one of his closest friends to a drug overdose.

“The last words my friend ever said to me was ‘You’re getting drafted,’” Battle said.

He described his relationship with Montana State coach Danny Sprinkle as that as being more than just a coach, but also as a mentor and personal therapist.

When Sprinkle resigned from Montana State to take another job, Battle said he found a common thread in which to begin a new relationship with Eilert.

Battle is an American Indian, a member of the Tulalip Tribe in the state of Washington.

“Coach Eilert blew me away when I flew over for my visit,” Battle said. “He grew up on a reservation for a few years, as well. That’s why we felt such a huge and comfortable connection. I’ve had three coaches in the past years, something I never thought would happen.”

According to Battle’s bio at WVU, he is pursuing a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree.

“From my standpoint, what makes zero sense, does a kid have to choose between an education and basketball?” Eilert asked. “He wants basketball in his life, and he wants an education. So, here we are at a point where he has to make that decision.

“Right now, he’s holding on to the hope something will change here, and he can play basketball and still get his education.”

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