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Aurora greats Kenny Battle, Thomas Wyatt earn Hall of Fame honors

Former Aurora high school basketball greats Kenny Battle and Thomas Wyatt are Hall of Fame bound, again.

West High’s Battle (class of 1984) and East High’s Wyatt (class of 1990) will join eight other players in the fourth class inducted into the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame and Museum next weekend in Champaign. The ceremony will take place Saturday, Oct. 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The group’s inaugural class was selected in 2010 and inducted in 2011. Dick Corn, who coached at Pinckneyville High School for 32 years, serves as its executive director. Its executive board roster boasts such hoops notables as former NBA star and coach Doug Collins, sports executive Jerry Colangelo and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

On its website, it says the IHSB Hall of Fame and Museum “will be built in Pinckneyville … and located in its historic town square.” Pinckneyville is 60 miles southeast of St. Louis.

Battle and Wyatt, of course, are already members of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1996 and 1998, respectively.

This past spring the IBCA’s executive board announced it was forming a “super committee” with a Pontiac-based group in hopes of locating its hall of fame and Illinois Basketball Museum in a building in the central Illinois town.

The group is exploring funding for the project, which will feature a building of 30,000-40,000 square feet and also house an Oakland-Pontiac Car Museum.

“I came from a great program with some exceptional athletes before me and after me,” said Battle, who led the Blackhawks to a third-place finish in the IHSA Class AA State Tournament in 1984.

“To put on a West Aurora uniform meant a lot to me. Even today, West Aurora is deep in my heart. Just look at all the successful players who have come from that program.”

Battle played for two seasons at Northern Illinois for former West High coach John McDougal. He transferred to Illinois after McDougal was fired and starred for Lou Henson for two years, including the 1989 Flyin’ Illini that reached the NCAA Final Four.

Battle, who was drafted in the first round of the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, played with four other teams in the league for four seasons. He will be starting his first season next month as girls varsity coach at Joliet Catholic, where his daughter Ty plays and where he served as an assistant last season.

He ranks fifth on West’s career scoring list with 1,188 points in three varsity seasons. Everyone ahead of him played for four.

“I can’t take the credit for this honor. It was the guys that were around me,” Wyatt said. “Those guys made things easy for me. I can talk about them all day.”

Wyatt graduated from East Aurora in 1990 after leading the Tomcats’ varsity to a 99-18 record over four years that featured three Sweet 16 and two Elite Eight appearances in the state tournament. He ranks 19th on the state’s all-time scoring list with 2,575 points.

Wyatt played in college at the University of Utah and New Mexico State, helping lead the Aggies to the NIT final.

He was an assistant coach at Peoria Central but now lives and coaches basketball in Centennial, Colo., at Smoky Hill High School. He has four children, including two boys who play on the team.

“I bleed red and black. I am always talking about East Aurora. I love that school,” Wyatt said. “It was some great times, a lot of great memories.”