Midtown: Sports

Battle enjoys ESPN contest

N.C. State’s Staats Battle hasn’t played a minute in the NCAA tournament, but the Wolfpack guard is making a name for himself ... with his name.

It’s unusual. It’s an eye-catcher. So what if his first name often is mispronounced?

ESPN thinks it’s a cool name. So cool, that the cable sports network included Battle in its “Coolest Name in the NCAA Tourney” contest. The walk-on guard from Raleigh has gotten enough votes in the online “tournament” to advance to the third round.

“That’s really cool,” said Battle, a standout in basketball and tennis at Broughton High. “I wasn’t expecting that. Especially being a walk-on (at N.C. State) and getting some recognition and ESPN mentioning me, that’s pretty cool.”

Battle breezed through the first round of the “Uwe Blab Regional,” getting 84 percent of the vote to beat Mike Broghammer of Notre Dame. Battle picked up about 64 percent of the votes to top Grandy Glaze of St. Louis and 70 percent to beat Alabama’s Dakota Slaughter.

His fourth-round opponent is Bak Bak of California. Voting for the fourth round concluded at 10 p.m. Monday.

Battle said it probably helps that most people believe Staats rhymes with “stats” – as in basketball stats. Actually, the name is of Dutch ancestry and rhymes with “dots.”

“It’s kind of weird because I’ve been going by this name my whole life, so I don’t think it’s different,” Battle said, smiling. “But I’ve had to correct people, then do it over and over again.”

Battle didn’t have much ACC competition in the ESPN brackets. James Michael McAdoo of North Carolina did beat out “The Plumlee Brothers” – a joint entry from Duke – in the opening round but then bowed out to Scoop Jardine of Syracuse. Assane Sene of Virginia was beaten in the first round, as was Deividas Dulkys of Florida State.

Battle is named after his father – which leads to another story.

Battle’s father Richard is a UNC graduate. His mother Carol is an N.C. State graduate.

Battle’s sister, Cameron, is a UNC grad. Another sister, Sterling, is a junior at N.C. State.

The cross loyalties should make for an interesting trip to St. Louis this week for Friday’s Midwest Regional featuring the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack in consecutive games.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Battle said, smiling again. “It gets real intense when the games come up. Sometimes, we don’t talk to each other for a while.”

Battle said his parents do sit together when the Pack and Heels face off, such as at this year’s ACC Tournament.

“I try to keep my eye on them during the games to make sure nothing breaks out,” he joked.

As for the ESPN contest, Battle realizes the ultimate test is next. The top seed in his regional is Bak.

Wolfpack teammate Scott Wood said he’s disappointed not to be in ESPN’s tournament but realizes he has a generic name.

“My family tries to keep it simple,” he said.

So Wood is throwing all his support to Staats Battle. He’s voted for him, twice.