On a mid-July afternoon four years ago in New York, fans packed a gymnasium to watch a clash of AAU powers, featuring D1 Minnesota vs. the Compton Magic.

The headlining player was future No. 2 NBA draft pick Evan Mobley, but the prospect who blew everyone away after the opening tip was Jamison Battle.

"There were five kids that eventually played in the NBA in that game," D1 Minnesota coach Jay Fuhrmann said. "So that tells you a lot."

Gophers fans notice Battle now scorching nets in his first Big Ten season. The former DeLaSalle standout, now a college sophomore, is proving to be one of the top transfers in the country.

But Battle was a relative unknown nationally for Minnesota's elite summer squad not long ago, on the floor with several soon-to-be pros, including Tyrell Terry, Zeke Nnaji and Matthew Hurt.

Another Battle teammate then, one he'll play Sunday when the Gophers (10-4, 1-4) face rival Iowa at home, was Hawkeyes sophomore Patrick McCaffery, who will never forget Battle's performance that day.

In a thrilling overtime game in the Adidas Gauntlet Finale, Battle was unstoppable during a 17-minute stretch, scoring 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including 4-for-4 on threes.

"That game was awesome," said McCaffery, son of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. "Both teams were so good and so talented. Jamison came in and just hit a bunch of threes off the bat."

Even after that breakout game, though, Battle ended up with no power conference offers and signed with George Washington in the Atlantic 10 before his senior year, in which he led DeLaSalle to the Class 3A state title.

Not even the hometown Gophers, under Richard Pitino, gave Battle a look to join their 2019 class. But Iowa showed interest. The Hawkeyes had Battle on their radar when George Washington's staff was fired before he headed off to college. And Iowa took another look when Battle entered the transfer portal last spring.

McCaffery, who said they've been talking lately about how their seasons are going, knew Battle couldn't pass up playing for first-year coach and fellow Minnesotan Ben Johnson.

"He was a guy we obviously would've loved to have," Pat McCaffery said. "He's a really good player. He's a really good shooter. And he's really now diversified his game. Now we have to play against him, which is unfortunate. But I'm excited for him because he's where he belongs, at his home school."

Family Battles

After the first breakout games of his Gophers' career, Battle was thinking of his family when he was hundreds of miles away winning the Asheville Championship title in North Carolina.

A few weeks earlier on Oct. 26, Battle's younger sister, Amaya, lost her mother and his stepmom, Stephanie Battle, unexpectedly.

Jamison made his U debut in early November, and his sister signed with coach Lindsay Whalen's Gophers women's basketball team shortly after. Bittersweet moments for both.

"Being there for my dad and being there for my sister is all I can do," Battle said. "It's been hard for us, but it's about us sticking together. Amaya is coming to Minnesota. Now I'm in Minnesota, and my dad lives there, so it's kind of a dream come true for him. We're always here – and we're his rock."

Staying home to play for the Gophers wasn't an option for Jamison out of high school like his sister, a top-40 national recruit at Hopkins. Notable recruiting services had no rating on Battle. How much he was overlooked at DeLaSalle surprised people close to him, but Battle's success in college, especially as a big-time scorer, isn't shocking to Amaya.

"For me, it's more so like 'about time,' because we always had that [take-over-the-game mentality]," his sister said. "His just took a little longer to come out."

As a freshman at George Washington, Battle arrived as a physically maturing 6-7, 230-pound forward with so much more upside offensively than people even knew. The Colonials played him the second-most minutes (35.3) on the team, and Battle broke the school record for single-season threes (89) and led the A-10 in three-point shooting as a freshman. The defense and other areas developed over time.

"The big piece to me is that Jamison was categorized in high school as mostly a shooter," said his father, Terrell, who played at Winston-Salem State. "As time went on, he started to learn to do other stuff: defend, rebound, put the ball on the floor. Him going to GW — those two years were huge for his development."

Bigger role

Looking at the top scores in the Big Ten this season, Battle ranks sixth behind Iowa's Keegan Murray, Wisconsin's Johnny Davis, Illinois' Kofi Cockburn, Indiana's Trayce Jackson-Davis and Ohio State's E.J. Liddell.

All five of those other players were returning on Big Ten teams that were highly projected entering the season. Meanwhile, Battle and Johnson's Gophers came out of nowhere to take the league by surprise.

Battle's 17.9 scoring average is the highest for any player in the country this season transferring up to a power conference. Five 20-point performances this season included a season-best 27 points in the Dec. 11 win at Michigan.

He could be asked to put up big numbers again going against Murray, the NCAA's top scorer, on Sunday. The game also comes in the wake of losing senior captain Eric Curry to an ankle injury in Wednesday's 71-69 loss at Michigan State.

Back in AAU, Battle had to pick his moments to take over, knowing his time was limited in that role playing among so many highly recruited players.

Now, the Gophers use Battle more than any player in the Big Ten in minutes, and he still plays freely, like in that memorable AAU game vs. the Compton Magic when he didn't feel the spotlight was on him.

"I got guys around me who are going to support me and bring the best out of me," Battle said earlier. "I think that's what's going on this year. They're bringing the best out of me defensively and offensively. That's what you want out of teammates. That's what you want to do when you're playing at a high level in the Power Five and the Big Ten."

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the class in which DeLaSalle High School won the Minnesota boys' basketball title during Jamison Battle's senior year.