Ed Cooley called upon a close friend to replace former associate head coach Bob Simon by reaching out to Jeff Battle. Simon took the associate head coach position at Alabama under newly hired head coach Avery Johnson on April 19th. Battle was out of coaching this past year after being at Wake Forest for 13 years as the associate head coach for 3 different head coaches. Battle joins associate head coach Andre LaFleur and assistant coach Brian Blaney to make up Cooley’s 3 recruiting assistant coaches. The terms of Battle’s contract with Providence were not released.
Battle, 53, was close to joining Cooley’s staff back in 2011 after Cooley was hired at Providence, but the Philadelphia native opted to stay at Wake Forest under head coach Jeff Bzdelik. The main reason cited by Battle at the time was so that his son could finish his junior and senior seasons at the high school he was enrolled in. Battle’s son is now enrolled at East Carolina University. If you are not familiar with Battle’s personal story you should familiarize yourself with it. His wife Joyce battled a rare form of lung cancer for 8 years before succumbing to her illness in August 2008. She was 44. This article from Bret Strelow of the Fayetteville Observer is worth the read for more of that story.
“I am excited to have Jeff joining our staff,” Cooley said. “With his experience, ability to develop players and knowledge of the game, Jeff will be a tremendous asset to our program.”
Battle brings a breadth of coaching, recruiting and guard development experience. In addition to the 13 years as an associate head coach at Wake Forest, Battle was an assistant coach for 11 seasons between Delaware State, Loyola (MD) and Xavier. Some of the players he has helped recruit and develop include David West (Xavier), James Posey (Xavier), Chris Paul (Wake Forest), Jeff Teague (Wake Forest) and Josh Howard (Wake Forest). All of those except Posey has been an NBA All-Star. Posey is a two-time NBA champion and Chris Paul was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2006. He coached under Skip Prosser, Dino Gaudio and Jeff Bzdelik. Prosser first hired Battle at Loyola and brought Battle with him to Xavier and Wake Forest.
“I am extremely honored and blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of Coach Cooley’s staff,” Battle said. “For many years, I have admired the work Ed has done and the success his teams have had. I am eager to start working in Friartown.”
Battle is experienced, respected and a man of high character. A source familiar with Battle during his time at Wake Forest called this a “great hire by PC.” The source described Battle as “a quality person. Salt of the earth…[you] won’t find a better person.” Considering Cooley wanted to bring Battle into the fold 4 years ago this was an obvious choice and an excellent one. The Friar staff took a hit when Simon left for Alabama but Battle is an ideal replacement.
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