Jamison Battle flashed back to his DeLaSalle high school days when running up and down the Williams Arena court in his Gophers debut in Monday's 80-67 exhibition victory over Concordia (St. Paul).
Looking up in the crowd, the George Washington transfer saw his family, including his sister — Gophers women's basketball commit Amaya Battle — cheering him on after every big play. He kept them busy with his game-high 24 points.
"It's good to have my family back watching," Battle said. "It was hard last year with COVID not having them see me play. That's also the beauty of being home."
The Battle family supported Jamison a couple of years ago when the Islanders played in the state tournament at the Barn. Things are much different this time around.
The 6-7 sophomore is embracing being a Gophers starting forward and being in the best shape of his career, a good sign for new coach Ben Johnson going into the season opener next Tuesday against Missouri Kansas City.
"The atmosphere was great," Battle said. "Being back home, I can't really describe it. I remember playing at Williams in the state tournament, and it always felt good. To actually really do it with the Gophers was something really cool."
Battle's one of eight newcomers who played against Concordia (St. Paul), but he seemed as determined as anyone to make a great first impression.
Displaying the same smooth outside shooting stroke that helped him score 26 points in DeLaSalle's 63-56 victory over Waseca in the Class 3A title game in 2019, Battle nailed his first shot in a Gophers uniform — a three-pointer a few minutes into Monday's exhibition.
Battle's next field goal didn't come until 10 minutes later, but he scored 13 of his 18 first-half points in a seven-minute stretch. He finished 8-for-15 from the field and 5-for-5 from the foul line.
"I'm still looked upon to shoot the ball," said Battle, who averaged 17.3 points and shot 35% from three last season at George Washington before becoming Johnson's first commitment after he was named Gophers coach. "I think that's a strong suit of mine. Obviously, I'm going to shoot the ball, but there are different positions at a higher level."
His ability to hit jumpers isn't a surprise. But Battle worked on his body this summer to make more of a difference in Minnesota's frontcourt.
The Gophers lack depth inside, so the 225-pound Robbinsdale native started at power forward against Concordia. Battle felt bouncier and grabbed a team-best eight rebounds.
"I played a little bit at the four at GW, but I struggled with my body being a little too heavyset to play those bigger guys," he said. "The Big Ten is even bigger, so I know I had to come here and transform my body. I still weigh the same, but it was about gaining muscle."
Amaya Battle, a Hopkins senior guard and four-star recruit, won't play at the Barn until next season for Gophers women's coach Lindsay Whalen. Until then, she'll be her brother's biggest fan, cheering along with the rest of his family and friends attending each home game.
"Obviously my sister is coming to play here, so her coming to the Barn is cool to see," Jamison Battle said. "It's good to have family in the crowd."