Hopkins' Battle fourth local prep star to commit to U women for 2022

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Lindsay Whalen keeps mining for (maroon and) gold here at home.

The Gophers women's basketball coach added a fourth homegrown member to her 2022 recruiting class with Amaya Battle's announcement on Instagram and Twitter that she had chosen Minnesota.

Battle, a star guard at Hopkins High School about to enter her senior season, posted a picture of herself in a Gophers uniform, with the message: "Committed."

Battle said it all came down to wanting to stay home.

"I wanted to be able to rep my state," she said.

Battle's brother, Jamison, recently transferred to the Gophers men's team from George Washington. She said her brother's decision — and how much he has liked it at Minnesota so far — were part of the decision, too.

This gives Whalen a very strong, local 2022 class that also includes Chaska forward Mallory Heyer, Wayzata guard Mara Braun and Eden Prairie forward Nia Holloway.

The four have competed against each other for years, building mutual respect. The idea of finally being able to team up was exciting. "And maybe we can all start a trend of turning Minnesota around and keeping more players in-state," she said. "We're all just super excited. I was on the phone earlier today with Nia, and we were like, 'Let's just go now!' "

Heyer, Braun and Battle are all currently ranked in the top 100 in the 2022 class by ESPN. This spring, the Star Tribune named Braun and Heyer to its All-Metro first team. Battle was part of the second team.

Battle has been immersed in basketball for a while. Hopkins coach Tara Starks said Battle was nannied by former Hopkins star and current WNBA player Nia Coffey as a young girl and is good friends with Connecticut star Paige Bueckers, her former Royals teammate.

"She has the experience of what it means to play at that level," said Starks, who coaches Battle in both high school and in AAU with the Metro Stars.

A versatile player, Battle starts at the point, but also plays off-guard and small forward; Starks said Battle averaged about 15 points and eight rebounds per game as a junior.

"She's a big-time, big guard," Starks said. "She can play multiple positions, she shoots the mid-range really well. Her length causes problems for smaller guards. She'll bring experience in a winning culture, a good attitude and hard work to the Gophers."

With Battle's commitment, Whalen continues to succeed in her goal of luring top in-state talent to her program.

"It's a great statement," said Bill Larson, director of the North Tartan AAU program, which counts Braun and Holloway as members. "They're bringing in another great kid. These kids, they're close to one another. They play together, compete against each other. They realized special things can happen here."

This is just more proof of the progress Whalen has made creating relationships with local high school and AAU programs.

Whalen's 2021 recruiting class included Roseau's Katie Borowicz and Maggie Czinano of Watertown-Mayer; Borowicz graduated from high school early and joined the Gophers in time to play much of last season with the team.

And now Whalen has locked up four nationally-recognized prospects for the 2022 class.

"Keeping these kids home is huge," Starks said. "There is so much talent here. If these kids can go and have success, others will want to follow in their footsteps."

Nick Storm is founder and co-director of the Minnesota Fury AAU program, in which Heyer plays. "All four of those kids are [great players]," Storm said. "They're all so different in skill sets as well. Just a tremendous class. These are kids who can step in and play a lot as freshmen, and I think they're expecting that."