Point Guard Mentality

The words sound funny coming out of D.C. Assault coach Nate Britt Sr.'s mouth. He knows that. But it's honestly the best way he can explain his son's biggest challenge this season.

"He can score," Britt Sr., "but he's learning to be a scorer."

Make sense? It should. It's obvious that the younger Britt has all the skills to be an effective scorer. He can take his defender off the dribble and finish at the rim with a long, wiry frame. He has a dangerous spin move and a smooth pull-up. He even proved last summer that he could shoot from beyond the arch.

But there's more to scoring than having the skills to do it.

"Creating his own shot has never been a problem," Britt Sr. said. "If you haven't been a predominantly score-first point guard, you've got to understand when it's time to go and when it's time to get other people involved. He's going through that now."

Britt has been a point guard since the first day he put on a pair of sneakers. He's blessed with good vision, a calm head and a steady demeanor. He's bouncy and quick but doesn't force the issue. He utilizes the pass ahead on the break when it's open and glides up the floor – skillfully setting up the defense with changes in speed – when he chooses to take it himself.

Passing isn't just an attribute to his game, it's a part of his personality. He's at his best when he can set up his teammates.

"He's a natural born leader," Gonzaga coach Steve Turner said.

But for the first time in his life, Britt's team needs more out of him than just passing and leadership. Gonzaga needs him to be a scorer, too.

So far the results have been mixed. Against a brutal schedule, Britt has had games where his stroke from last summer was on full display and he looked like one of the best players in the country. Other nights he's pressed a bit, struggling to find a balance between his pass-first roots and the role role as the team's No. 1 option.

"He's at the top of the (opponent's) scouting report now where it's not going to be as easy as they have been in the past," Britt Sr said. "They're going to run two guys at him to get the ball out of his hands. Somebody is always going to be watching him. He's not going to get the extra looks. He's going to get the extra bumps."

Despite the up-and-down nature of his scoring this season, Britt Sr. isn't concerned at all about the transition. His son isn't necessarily at his best pulling up from three off the dribble but he has no problems hitting a set three on a kick out. His father know it's just a matter of time before he automatically pulls the trigger on the pass out of the post instead of hesitating out of old habits.

The junior guard's mentality is also cause for optimism with his transition. While he's struggled at times to find balance in his attack, he has a quiet confidence and rarely gets stressed.

Britt and his father talk a lot about having a good poker face on and off the court – never tipping your hand or coming off as arrogant. Turner said he can see it in the way Britt handles himself.

"You watch him walk around the school and you wouldn't know he's maybe one of the best point guards in his class," Turner said. "He knows who he is. He's very comfortable with himself and what he's able to do. When he's out on the floor, he's going to do his best and leave everything out there."

Once this transition is in his rearview mirror, Britt will be better for the journey. His basketball IQ and roots as a true point guard are far harder to teach than shooting a jump shot.

Turner already thinks Britt balances the two better than most. In fact, that's what makes him a special prospect.

"You've got so many guys now who are called point guards but all they do is score the ball. They don't make the guys around them better," Turner said. "I think his ability to balance the two is incredible."

Nate Britt Profile


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