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April 19, 2011
By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the short ride across campus from Nittany Apartments to the Hintz Family Alumni Center, Talor Battle said that didn't have a speech prepared before talking in front of the Penn State Alumni Council, the Alumni Association's governing body.
Penn State's all-time leading scorer laughed and opted to take the same approach as he did during the 133 games of his storied Nittany Lion career.
The senior guard was invited to be a surprise speaker at the Alumni Council's spring meeting last Friday. The 85 members of the council, who meet twice a year, had no idea Battle was coming to Friday's afternoon session of meetings.
Shortly after Penn State President Graham Spanier spoke to the Alumni Council, Battle was asked to leave the private holding room and stand in the doorway of the meeting room, at which time he received a glowing introduction.
He walked to the podium and thanked the council for the invitation, smiled and said this:
"I'm a little more nervous up here than I was in that picture," referring to the photo on a poster card of Battle draining the game-tying 3-pointer at the end of the NCAA Tournament in Tucson that each council member received during his introduction.
From there, the room erupted into laughter, and Battle was the star of the show. He was right. He didn't need to have notes prepared for the speech. Battle thrived in the spotlight throughout his Penn State career. He thoroughly enjoyed every one of his 4,799 minutes on the court.
And on Friday, Battle smiled and joked with the Alumni Council as if he knew every member in the room. That is just Talor Battle's personality. He was one of a kind for the Penn State basketball program on the floor, and Battle could not be a better ambassador for the program off the floor.
"I am very honored that you guys wanted me here," Battle said during his speech. "Penn State means a lot to me. For four years, it has been nothing but greatness and kindness from everyone on this campus...I really stayed loyal to Penn State because Penn State stayed loyal to me. And that is why I came here."
Battle shared a story with the Alumni Council about what he said to the team in the locker room right after the heartbreaking loss to Temple in the NCAA Tournament. He said that he told the team why he came to Penn State and what it meant to him.
"I love Penn State, but when I came here, the basketball program wasn't much," Battle said. "Now, I'm not saying that I'm the guy who helped turn it around (laughter). But I wanted to be a stepping-stone to begin turning it around. After four years, through up and downs, at the end of my career, I am able to say that I helped turn it around to get back to where we want to be, which is in the NCAA Tournament."
He spoke to the Alumni Council for several minutes before engaging in a question and answer session with members of the council. Numerous members of the council took the opportunity to thank Battle for what he did for Penn State and for being a role model.
Battle also received a lifetime membership to the Penn State Alumni Association.
The Albany, N.Y., native is in the midst of finishing his Recreation, Park and Tourism Management degree while he continues NBA Draft preparations. Battle mentioned the possibility of pursuing a coaching career after his playing days are over.
Penn State fans were treated to four years of basketball from one of the program's greatest of all-time.
On Friday, the Alumni Council was treated to a few minutes with an individual who represents Penn State University with great honor and class.
He is the type of student-athlete that doesn't come around too often, in any sport.
He is, Talor Battle.
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