Talor Battle Thrilled to Build on Penn State Hoops’ Recent Success as Assistant Coach
After working as a financial advisor for about three years, Talor Battle has returned to basketball.
The former Penn State hoops star earned his first coaching position as an assistant on Pat Chambers’ staff earlier this September.
While this season will be Battle’s first manning the sidelines, the 32-year-old has no shortage of historic moments in the Bryce Jordan Center. Battle played point guard for Penn State from 2007 to 2011 and enjoyed a dominant career. He left Happy Valley with a program-record 2,213 career points, 517 assists, and 131 games started.
Along with an NIT Championship in 2009, the guard led the Nittany Lions to their last NCAA Tournament appearance during his 2011 senior season. Penn State finished that season with a 19-15 overall record, while Battle started all games and finished averaging 18.5 points per game.
“That’s one of the greatest sports experiences I’ve had in my entire life, hands down,” Battle said.
While he looks back on the memory fondly, the new assistant coach is also well aware Penn State would’ve had another chance to make a run at the Big Dance last year had the season not been cut short by the coronavirus.
Led by Lamar Stevens — who finished his career just seven points shy of Battle’s career points record — the Nittany Lions finished their year with a 21-10 record and stood as a No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State even worked its way up all the way to No. 9 in the AP Top 25 poll in February.
“For the older guys, I don’t want to sell them short, they would’ve been in the NCAA Tournament,” Battle said. “But what I can share with them is all the success they had, and just continue to build on that. Getting to that stage is obviously very hard. It took a long time, a lot of work.”
Battle added that, while the Nittany Lions are losing some key players that helped put together last year’s run, veterans like Jamari Wheeler and John Harrar know exactly what it takes to get back to that point.
“To come out and have the season they had [last year] is just a testament to the hard work they put in,” Battle said. “All those dreams can be achieved as long as we work all as one. It’s a tough league, the conference is super hard, but as long as we keep grinding, I think we’re talented enough to be great.”
With a solid crop of young, returning talent, Battle is clearly ecstatic about the opportunity and the potential the group has. When Pat Chambers reached out to him about a position as an assistant coach, he described it as a “no-brainer.”
While Battle finished his career in Happy Valley shortly before Chambers was hired in June 2011, the pair have remained close.
“Three and a half years ago, when I was contemplating retirement, I had a conversation with [Pat] and he looked me in my eye and told me he’d do everything he could to help,” Battle said. “The guy is great. He said he would help me, I didn’t know it’d be to this extreme so I’m super excited about that.”
After his college career wrapped up, Battle played point guard in several leagues overseas before eventually deciding to retire in 2018. In 2012 he even got a shot to play for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Summer League, so he clearly has no shortage of experience at the position.
While Stevens and Mike Watkins are gone, the Nittany Lions still have plenty of talent at Battle’s old position, including Myreon Jones, Myles Dread, and Jamari Wheeler.
“Obviously Myles can shoot the ball great, MJ can shoot the ball and scores it any way he can,” Battle said. “Jamari is one of the best defenders in the league, can make plays. The team is gonna go off of him, he that’s kind of guy.
“I’m just excited. These guys are already established players in this league. If I can give them a little bit of input in how to help them become better, that’s what I’m excited for,” Battle added.
Currently, Penn State is set to start its season just a few weeks later than normal. The NCAA announced last week that Division I men’s and women’s basketball seasons will start November 25 in an effort to allow schools to better control the coronavirus on their respective campuses.
The Nittany Lions were set to play Indiana in last year’s Big Ten Tournament before all championships were canceled the day of the game. Battle and the rest of the coaching staff will try to pick up right where they left off when the season begins in late November.