By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — The next four years will be a big change for Charlotte basketball player Will Batts, going from the nice warm weather of southwest Florida to the windy city of Chicago.
But Batts will still get to continue playing the game he loves at the next level. The senior signed a national letter of intent Friday to play basketball at Elmhurst College, a NCAA Division III school in Chicago.
Batts, a 6-foot-6, 235-pound post player, said he had some interest from a few D-I schools, such The Citadel, American, Florida A&M, Alcorn State and Sacramento State, but Elmhurst was too good to pass up. The Bluejays offered the opportunity to play right away.
“I could’ve gone somewhere bigger but I just wanted to play,” Batts said Friday. “I didn’t want to go somewhere and wait two years to go play. Elmhurst wanted me from the jump and they said I could play right away and that’s all I can ask for.”
Batts is the 22nd player to play college basketball in Tom Massolio’s 20 years as Charlotte’s coach. It wasn’t easy for a Batts to achieve his goal, considering he suffered a fracture in his foot at the beginning of his junior year.
“He came to us a couple of years ago and we were really excited about him,” Massolio said. “He had to fight through an injury his first year here and did everything he could to get back out on the floor to help us last year.
“This past year he just developed into a leaner, more athletic, quicker type of player and (Elmhurst) is getting a kid who’s going to give his heart every time he steps on the floor. I couldn’t be more excited for him.”
As a senior, Batts averaged over eight points and more than seven rebounds per game for the Tarpons, who finished runner-up in District 7A-10 and were a regional quarterfinalist.
“I’m really just looking forward to playing at the next level and just for opportunity,” Batts said. “This has been a long time dream to play college basketball and I achieved that goal today.”