BOULDER — After every home game, Evan Battey makes his rounds through the CU Events Center.

On Sunday, for example, he sang the fight song with his teammates, high-fived the student section, spoke with legendary play-by-play man Bill Walton for the TV broadcast of the game and then Mark Johnson for the Buffs’ radio broadcast. He spoke with friends and family and then he headed for the CU locker room.

While Battey made his rounds, 97-year-old Colorado superfan Peggy Coppom waited for him under the basket, as always.

This time, though, Coppom brought Battey a gift.

In honor of Battey crossing the 1,000-point mark, Coppom gave him a picture of the two of them together. It was taken a few weeks ago, shortly after the exhibition game against Nebraska. Now, it’s on a shelf in Battey’s apartment.

“I love it,” Battey told DNVR

It wasn’t always just Battey and Coppom meeting up after the game. For most of Battey’s time in Boulder, his teammates McKinley Wright IV, D’Shawn Schwartz and Tyler Bey were also around. That group comprised the 2017 CU recruiting class that changed the trajectory of the program.

But Bey left for the NBA in 2020, and Wright followed him this spring. Schwartz is now  playing his final season at George Mason University. Betty Hoover, Coppom’s twin sister and fellow superfan, died of pancreatic cancer in August.

“They were usually under the basket together and me, and McKinley, and D’Shawn, would just go over and give them a hug and everything.” Battey said.

Now, Battey is making his last run as a Colorado Buffalo without his classmates.

“It’s good and bad,” Battey said. “I can tell K.J. (Simpson) stories about McKinley and he can kind of figure it out, just take things he likes and incorporate it into his game. For our other guys, like Jabari (Walker) and Tristan (da Silva), sharing all the things that T-Bey did, and for our wings, D’Shawn. We had great role models for all of our positions.”

That’s the good. The bad part is missing his teammates.

“I just can’t really speak the words because it’s hard to imagine,” Battey said. “I really can’t believe it. Honestly, it’s so surreal.”

Battey watches all of his former classmates’ games. Battey tunes in whenever former teammates Dallas Walton and Jeriah Horne are playing, too. He doesn’t miss many. Wright’s G-League games are the hardest to find.

Those classmates, in his mind, are what give meaning to his 1,000 points.

“The number doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Battey said. “The fact that me and my other three classmates in my class all reached a milestone is indicative of what we set out to do here when we committed here.”

For most of his career, Battey was the unsung hero, though he was always a fan favorite. Bey was on the fast track to the NBA. Schwartz was the scorer. Wright was the floor general directing the team. Battey did the dirty work down low. Now, at least through seven games, Battey is the team’s leading the team in points

When Battey broke the 1,000-point benchmark on Sunday, his teammates jumped when he finally made it back to the locker room.

“Personally I’ve never had myself be the focal point of it,” Battey said of the celebration. “I’ve celebrated but I’m usually the one saying, ‘Let’s get the water bottles. Let’s get the ice. Let’s get him. Let’s get him.'”

Battey didn’t know the celebration was coming. Head coach Tad Boyle said none of the coaches planned it. Point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy told DNVR he didn’t know who planned it either.

Regardless, Battey sees a lesson in that moment.

“We like to emphasize winning,” Battey said. “If you don’t emphasize winning, it’s not fun, you know? It’s this fine line between winning and losing. If we lose that game and I score 1,000 points, we don’t do that. That’s the reality of it.”

Battey serves as a bridge between two generations. He is the last of a great group of Buffaloes that brought consistent winning to Boulder and raised the standard of Colorado basketball. Now, 10 of 12 scholarship players are freshmen or sophomores in the program.

This season is Battey’s time to point the program in the correct direction by passing along the lessons he’s learned over the past half-decade.

“The most important thing is to win and then the second-most important thing is my teammates,” Battey said. “They show me a lot of love. I’ve been blessed to play with great players over the years, who fed me the ball when I was shooting layups and just not shooting hard shots at all. I’m just very fortunate, man.”

Recently, the points have been tougher to come by. Battey has developed his offensive game past the point anybody could have expected coming into the season. He’s automatic in the post and, at least so far, he’s even more automatic from behind the 3-point line.

Barthelemy can barely believe his eyes.

“Usually it would be, ‘Oh wow, he made a three,'” Barthelemy told DNVR. “Now he just makes every three.”

Battey is 8-of-11 from deep. He says he always knew that extra time in the gym would pay off in games, but he’s never bought in the way he has the past couple of years. He’s almost always the last player on the practice floor, which is sometimes upwards of an hour after he could have gone home.

Barthelemy knows that’s exactly why Battey has started the season 8-of-11 from deep.

“His work ethic,” Barthelemy said. “I mean look, he’s right there shooting.”

The lessons Battey can teach are endless, and sometimes he doesn’t even have to make an effort to teach them.

Take the end of the Montana State game, for example. It’s the season-opener and at least four or five of the players sitting on the bench with Battey are playing college basketball for the first time in their lives. The game is almost over and it’s a tight one.

So whenever one of Battey’s teammates makes a play, he’s out of his seat screaming, yelling and waving a towel. Before you know it, the rest of the bench is doing the same thing.

“The main lesson here in me energizing my team, is that energy elevates energy,” Battey said. “Whatever you do, honestly, if you do it with great energy, you will be better at it. I’m just trying to make the young guys understand that. Even when I’m not in the game, I’m still in the game.”

Another great lesson.

“I know how important my energy is to the team.” Battey said. “I’ve done that for four years—I’ve done that for five years actually. My redshirt year I was on the bench standing up, talking, yelling out a bunch of shit even though I couldn’t really talk. It’s always been that way.”

(He couldn’t really talk because he had recently suffered a stroke.)

I asked Battey if there was any pressure that comes along with serving as the emotional leader of the team. His job is to hype up the student section and scream at the fans. He’s expected to bring it every night, and sometimes people have days when they’re just not feeling that energetic.

“It’s not any pressure because that’s just who I am,” Battey said. “You don’t feel any pressure to be who you are. You be who you are regardless of the situation. I’m always going to bring my energy, I’m always going to be myself.”

Battey has found himself reminiscing about his time in Boulder often, recently. His team left for Los Angeles on Tuesday, ahead of a matchup with UCLA. This will be his last college road trip to his hometown.

He already played his final game at USC.

“Actually last week I was reflecting on my time,” Battey said. “I’m like, ‘Damn, my time in the Galen Center is really over.’ I’m 3-0 in that building. I’ve had some good stretches in that building, so I can’t complain.”

At the Pauley Pavilion, where UCLA plays, Battey is 2-3. (He’s 2-2 in the games he’s actually participated in, but he counts the loss that came during his redshirt year, despite the fact he didn’t play.)

The Bruins are a tough test. They lost the national semifinal last season on a buzzer beater and returned their entire team from the tournament. Plus, they added a five-star freshman and a big man. They came into the season ranked second in the nation, but have since slipped to No. 5.

“I’m ready to get out there and compete,” Battey said. “That’s all I want from my guys, that’s all I want out of my guys; compete and just be tough.”

Battey has 11 tickets to the game, which he’ll give to his family. His friends will have to find tickets on their own. He doesn’t know how many friends and family will be there, but the number will be big.

“It means the world to me because it’s a chance to play in front of my whole family, my hometown,” Battey said. “It’s good to be back in the old stomping grounds and see all the places that I visited and see all the lanes I traveled growing up. It’s a very gratifying experiencing.”

But while this is a trip to his hometown, don’t tell Battey he’s taking a trip home.

“Boulder is my home now,” Battey said.

Boulder is where he screamed for his teammates even when he couldn’t speak words.

It’s where he grew up with Tyler and D’Shawn and McKinley.

It’s where he’s teaching a new generation of Buffs.

It’s where he’s hugged Peggy Coppom hundreds of times and where she gave him a photo after he scored his 1,000th point.

“I’m so fortunate to have her in the building,” Battey said. “I’m cherishing every last moment I get in this building. It’s of utmost importance.”

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Henry was born in Columbia Falls, Montana and graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 2015. He earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Montana in 2019. Henry joined DNVR as a remote staff writer in 2017, providing support to BSN's Broncos beat reporters. He interned at DNVR headquarters in the summer of 2018 and accepted a full-time position after graduating from UM. Follow Henry on Twitter - @HenryChisholm

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