Amaya Battle, a 5-foot-11 2022 guard from Hopkins (MN) High, committed to Minnesota in June. She is ranked as the third best senior in Minnesota by Prep Hoops and is the #37 player in the country, according to ESPN.
Battle is part of a four player recruiting class of local talent that are ranked as the second, third, fourth and fifth best players in the state. She will join Chaska forward Mallory Heyer, Wayzata guard Mara Braun and Nia Holloway from Eden Prairie at Minnesota.
Battle will also join her brother, Jamison, who transferred to Minnesota after playing two seasons at George Washington.
Battle averaged 12.9 points per game this past season, scoring in double figures in 12 of 15 games. She had two games of 20 points against Minnetonka and St. Michael-Albertville. Hopkins finished 16-1, losing to eventual state champion Chaska 67-62 in the Class AAAA state tournament semifinals.
Battle averaged 8.3 points per game as a sophomore with a season-high of 15 points versus Eden Prairie. The Royals finished 30-0, but unfortunately, COVID-19 prevented them from playing in the Class AAAA title game.
GopherHole caught up with Battle Sunday at the Pacesetter Sweet 16 at St. Benedict’s to learn more about her decision to attend Minnesota and upcoming senior season.
GopherHole: You committed to Minnesota in June. What was the main reason that you decided that the Gophers was where you wanted to play?
Amaya Battle: The fact that it is home and that three other girls previously committed and I thought that all four of us could really turn the program around. Then my brother transferred there earlier and I saw he was having a good time, so that was part of it and also the coaching staff and the whole environment gave me a family feel and I felt really comfortable there. Those are the main reasons.
GopherHole: Coach Whalen has made getting the top instate girls to stay in Minnesota, much like Coach Johnson has done on the men’s side. You play in the same conference as two of those girls and know all them pretty well. Is that something that appealed to you to be that “instate girl” that would stay home?
Amaya Battle: Yeah. Those three are staying and I like the fact that everybody is a big player at their school, so I know that they will bring their community to watch Gopher games, as well and they are all, obviously, really good players and the fact that I played against Mara a lot and Nia, too. I kind of learned their game and I feel like I would know how to play with them and it would be really fun.
GopherHole: I know that you are all not the same position, but do you feel that your skills compliment each other?
Amaya Battle: Totally. I definitely think, especially that too, I think our skills definitely compliment each other, so that also another big reason. They definitely do.
GopherHole: Minnesota has a great tradition, but under Coach Whalen, they haven’t done maybe quite as well as people were hoping, but I think with this new class and your class, people are expecting things to turn around. Is that something you would like to be a part of getting Minnesota basketball back to where it has been in the past?
Amaya Battle: Yes, I definitely want to be part of changing the Gopher program around, back to the past, like when Lindsey went there and they went to the Final Four. I want to make that happen and that was another reason that I went there, so that is the main goal.
GopherHole: Obviously, your brother transferred from George Washington to Minnesota. I know that he was looking at Miami and some other schools, but wound up close to home. You mentioned that as being a big factor. What will it be like to play at the same school as your brother?
Amaya Battle: I think it will be interesting. I don’t know if I am going to see him on campus a lot, because we’ll all be doing different things, but just having my brother right there will definitely be helpful, just for on and off the court advice, so I think it will be cool.
GopherHole: Obviously, it makes it as little easier for your parents to get to see you guys because I know it was tough when he was so far away?
Amaya Battle: Yes, they can just drive up to see both of us play.
GopherHole: You played a lot of AAU basketball this spring and summer. How pleased were you with how your AAU season went?
Amaya Battle: We didn’t really bring home any hardware, so that was disappointing, but I think as we went along in July, we did make some noise. We played really well and I think we really came together as a team, so I was pretty pleased with it.
GopherHole: You play in one of the best programs in the state. Year in and year out, Hopkins is expected to win it all. What would it mean to win a state title as a senior?
Amaya Battle: It would definitely mean a lot because senior year, you want to go out with a bang. You want to leave a mark and remember it, so it would definitely mean a lot. That is what we are really focusing for.
GopherHole: Hopkins has produced a lot of great players in the past, like Nia Coffey and Paige Bueckers. What does it mean to play for that kind of program?
Amaya Battle: It means a lot because I have to represent all the past successful players that have been there and it means that I am representing what they did, because they built the program. People in the back, they built the program. Now, we are just trying to carry on their legacy, so it really means a lot.
GopherHole: Do you feel a little bit of a weight off your shoulder now that you have gotten your commitment done?
Amaya Battle: I definitely felt relief. After I knew that I wanted to go there, I was feeling relieved and after the phone call and I told other coaches no, I was really relieved and super excited.
GopherHole: What other schools were you down to when you made your choice?
Amaya Battle: It was the “U”, Wisconsin and Marquette. Mainly those three.
GopherHole: Was it hard to call those coaches because they had been recruiting you for a long time?
Amaya Battle: It was hard, because I’ve also built relationships with them and bonds. I actually liked their schools, too, so it was hard, but this is where I want to be. I want to stay home.
GopherHole: Have you set up your official visit yet?
Amaya Battle: It is going to be sometime in the fall, because I think all four of us are going to go on one together. I think we are going to go to a football game.
GopherHole: Are you guys talking to anyone else about joining you at Minnesota, you four?
Amaya Battle: We have some ideas, but for now we are enjoying the moment of being committed and all that.