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Rocky Mount High's Dante Battle, Nash Central's Ni'Ya Styles and Rocky Mount High's Immanuel King, from left, will all be playing college basketball.

Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

Rocky Mount High's Dante Battle, Nash Central's Ni'Ya Styles and Rocky Mount High's Immanuel King, from left, will all be playing college basketball.

Area trio heading to the next level

By Jessie H. Nunery

Sports Editor

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Rocky Mount High’s Dante Battle and Immanuel King like to refer to themselves as a Batman & Robin tandem.

Nash Central’s Ni’Ya Styles doesn’t have a superhero name for herself, but for all purposes, the five-foot tall senior played like Wonderwoman during her prep career.

All three will try to add to their legends during the coming years.

The inseperable Battle and King recently signed with Wallace State Community College (Ala.), while Styles inked a national letter of intent to Mount Olive College.

“It felt like a family,” Styles said of her visits to campus and interaction with current team members. “I have to fit in, but I think I’ll fit in well.”

Styles, a three-time Telegram All-Area first team member, averaged 15 points per game during her senior season.

Most of all, her passion and direction paced a Nash Central squad that made the playoffs this year despite a roster without a lot of varsity experience.

It wasn’t too long ago that Styles was a freshman starter, and four years later, Styles could have the same opportunity.

She chose Mount Olive over St. Augustine’s and Barton.

“I needed to go where I was going to be happy, and Mount Olive was where it was at,” Styles said.

There was no doubt Styles was Nash Central’s go-to player, and at Rocky Mount, that honor was shared this season.

Battle and King never have had trouble co-existing since the latter’s transfer from Nash Central before their junior seasons.

“I just wanted to play with another big man like Terrill Hilliard,” said Battle, who was the MVP of the Gryphons’ 2012 NCHSAA 3-A state championship victory. “I wanted someone I knew I could have a good bond with on and off the court. When (Iman) came, I knew he would be that person.”

The duo averaged a combined 29.4 points and 24.1 rebounds per game.

When it came time for colleges to come calling, the two knew they wanted to play together, and often, those schools wound up scouting both players.

In Wallace State, both players have an opportunity to improve their games with the hope of playing Division I basketball some day.

Battle had a few Division I schools look his way, but nothing materialized.

King said playing college ball at any level exceeded his early expectations.

“I never thought I would be that good playing varsity,” King said. “I kept along with it. Coach (Michael) Gainey said the colleges would come. If we want to work hard, we can move on to the next stage.

“That’s what I want to do.”

Both agree that their move to Alabama will provide a positive example for the next Batman & Robin duo.

“I think there is a lot of talent around Rocky Mount,” Battle said. “Kids just have to stay out of trouble so they can show it.”

Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or jhnunery@rmtelegram.com