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Justin Jackson: RaeQuan Battle could be the best scorer the rest of the nation has never heard of

Jan. 4—MORGANTOWN — There is no crystal ball or anything similar that's available to tell us how WVU guard RaeQuan Battle will play for the rest of the season.

He may continue to go out game after game and become a model of scoring consistency, go in the opposite direction or fall somewhere in between.

"He's got more, " WVU head coach Josh Eilert said during a Zoom call Thursday. "He's a very coachable young man and he's a great person and a great teammate. He wants to do everything he can for us to win.

"He'd be very happy if he scored five points and we got a win. That's the type of person he is. That's the type of teammate he is."

If Battle is only scoring five points a game the rest of the season, then this column can be wadded up and thrown in the trash can (that probably should happen regardless).

But—and we realize this is a big but—if Battle can go out and keep scoring 20-plus points a game, then he is at the beginning stages of what could be the most unfortunate statistical season in NCAA basketball history.

First, let's give you some context of what Battle has already accomplished.

He missed the first 10 games of the season due to the fight with the NCAA over his eligibility and then he sat out one game with the flu.

Coming in cold to start his season, Battle has gone for 29, 29 and 24 points.

You've got to go back 54 years to find another WVU men's hoops player—Wil Robinson—who had a better start to his season. Robinson scored 39, 39 and 29 in the first three games of his junior season in 1970.

Here's something else: the great Jerry West never had a better three-game stretch at WVU to start a season than Battle already has had.

So, yeah, Battle is an interesting topic.

How could any of this become unfortunate for him ?

NCAA and Big 12 statistical rules state a player must play in at least 75 % of his team's games in order to have their stats register among the leaders.

Meaning Battle could go out and drop 30 points against No. 3 Houston on Saturday, then maybe go out and score another 30 against Kansas, say, 25 more against Baylor and so on, and the rest of the college hoops world wouldn't know he even existed.

His stats would be in the cloud, as the saying goes these days, but they literally wouldn't count by NCAA and Big 12 standards.

In order for Battle to reach the 75 % standard, WVU would have to play 40 games. Battle would play in 30 of those, reaching the necessary mark.

WVU has 31 games scheduled in the regular season, so you see where we're going with this.

WVU would likely then have to go and win the Big 12 tournament and then advance to the Final Four in order to reach 40 games. With the Mountaineers currently sitting at 5-8, the odds of those two things happening are pretty steep.

Meaning Battle may have a scoring average high enough at season's end to lead the nation—WVU has never had a player lead the country in scoring—but it wouldn't count.

Now, a lot is going to happen between now and then, beginning with how teams begin to defend Battle.

"Teams are going to key on him, " Eilert said. "They're going to key heavily on him, so he should be drawing their best defender each and every night."

Then there is Saturday's road game against the Cougars.

If Battle just reaches double figures in that game, it would be impressive, because Houston simply doesn't allow anyone to score. The Cougars are the only team in the nation who are holding opponents to less than 50 points a game.

In the weeks to come, Jesse Edwards will also make his return to the lineup and he'll likely become as much of the offensive focus as he was before he fractured his right wrist.

Odds are Battle will see his scoring dip to the point to where this current conversation is unnecessary.

Then again, a few weeks ago, the odds would have told you Battle would have never suited up this season to begin with.

So, it becomes a case for the curious. Can Battle keep it up ? If he does, the sad part of it all is very few outside the state of West Virginia would even know it.

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