The senior overcame plenty to earn his scholarship and become one of the top players in the state.
MARYSVILLE — Through tears, RaeQuan Battle signed his letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Washington on Wednesday morning.
The Marysville-Pilchuck senior had a winding road to the start of the signing period for all student athletes except football. But UW remained a constant from the moment former coach Lorenzo Romar’s staff scouted Battle at a Lummi holiday tournament in 2016.
“This means so much to me,” said Battle, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who is rated a four-star athlete by multiple recruiting sites and is one of the top-5 players in the state, according to ESPN.
Battle signed his official documents during a ceremony at the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club underneath the same basketball hoop where he learned the game. Battle’s first dream was to play football, but nearly all of the Native American side of his family plays basketball — his mother and grandfather also played at M-P.
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Battle was hooked on hoops since he was the high scorer and MVP of a tournament in Lummi when he was a third grader.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m not bad at this sport,’ ” he said. “And it all started right here on this floor.”
Battle’s dedication was tested in 2013 when his cousin, who was raised with Battle and his four brothers, died by suicide in August and in October of 2014 when four students were killed during a school shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck. Battle was related to the shooter.
“There was a lot of, ‘I just want to lay here and watch TV and eat holiday food,’ ” said Battle’s mother Jacquie, a single parent. “I had to make him get up; we’re not going to stay stuck. We have to keep it moving. I told him to take it out on the floor or on the football field because she was a baller, too. We were the loudest ones at his games.”
Battle played three games on Marysville-Pilchuck’s freshman team before moving up to varsity. An elite AAU tournament in Georgia is where he garnered national recruiting attention as a sophomore. His junior year cemented him as a top recruit.
It began by averaging 21.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the Tomahawks. Marysville-Pilchuck finished the season 19-5, winning its first Northwest District title since 1993. The Tomahawks lost to Mount Spokane 72-67 in the Class 3A regional round.
Last summer, Battle played for Seattle Rotary with local stars Jaden McDaniels (Federal Way) and MarJon Beauchamp (Rainier Beach) on the AAU circuit. Battle was also invited by Jamal Crawford to participate in the NBA star’s camp at Beach for the top 30 players in the state during Labor Day weekend.
“Marysville-Pilchuck has never had a player of RaeQuan’s caliber,” said longtime boys basketball coach Bary Gould, noting past standouts such as Taylor Stevens, who played at Seattle U, and Jared Stohl, at Portland. “But, as far as pure, God-given talent, RaeQuan is special. He can get to the rim and dunk it, hits some amazing shots, handle the ball and shoot the three. It’s fun to watch him play.”
Battle said the UW staff believes he’ll fit in well with the Huskies’ up-tempo style. He’s been told to work on gaining strength and assistant coach Cameron Dollar has instilled a laser-focus on academics to prepare him for life on Montlake.
Many of the Tulalip tribal members are already fierce UW fans. Battle is believed to be the first from the Tulalip Tribe to receive a Division-I basketball scholarship.
“Across Indian Country, there are a lot of players who wish they could sit in a chair like this,” said Marlin Fryberg Jr., one of the tribal leaders and board directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. “There are going to be some times when he thinks no one is there, but we’re all here and we’re all so proud. Every single one of us.”