Final Scouting Report: Nate Britt

After a thorough evaluation over the last three years, Rob Harrington authors the final version of his in-depth scouting report on incoming Tar Heel freshman Nate Britt ...

    Nate Britt
    6-1/180
    Point Guard
    Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy
    Class of 2013

    Narrative

    Britt initiated a national profile during his sophomore season at Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga, then parlayed that early interest into big-time status after a dazzling set of performances at the NBPA Top 100 Camp during the 2011 summer.

    He attracted numerous elite suitors early, accumulating scholarship offers from Georgetown, Maryland, Villanova, Louisville and others. And then, during the fall of his junior season, he received an offer from his childhood favorite: North Carolina.

    The Tar Heels locked up Britt's commitment a couple months later, giving them a point guard recruit for the second straight year (Marcus Paige inked from the 2012 class).

    Britt's junior season brought stirring highs and surprising lows, aided by a calf injury that hampered his progress. He nevertheless entered the spring as a national top-25 prospect, and most analysts predicted that he'd make the 2013 McDonald's All-American game.

    But his spring and summer proved subpar. At times Britt was outshone by D.C. Assault teammate Roddy Peters, and he simply didn't punctuate enough games with the kind of dominance one expects from a blue-chip point guard.

    His senior year became cut short due to injury. He tore the meniscus in his right knee and underwent surgery in December, which sidelined him until February. He posted very modest scoring numbers, averaging seven points per game and shooting 41 percent from the field. He was hobbled both before and after surgery, however, and by April he was moving better and contributed a 14-point against nationally rated Montverde prep.

    Nevertheless, his extended absence combined with lackluster play during the 2012 summer caused him to drop out of some national top 100 rankings. That's rare territory for a UNC recruit, and he'll slot between incumbent starter Marcus Paige and touted junior pledge Joel Berry.

    Assets

    No one can question whether Britt understands his future collegiate position. He's a true quarterback who distributes intelligently and unselfishly, understanding matchups and also how to feed a hot hand.

    He doesn't play with extraordinary flash due to the fact that he chooses to minimize passing risks, so from that standpoint he resembles Tywon Lawson's preferred passing approach as opposed to Kendall Marshall's. And yet, he does possess a creative streak when running the break.

    Britt also is an ambidextrous scorer. Scouts love to refer to players as ambidextrous and sometimes that's nonsense, but in Britt's case that description has proved apt. He's a southpaw who finishes even contested attempts at the rim with his right hand, and he's very adept to pull up just short of the basket to loft in a layup over a big man's outstretched arm.

    He first crafted his scoring repertoire on the basis of medium-range jump shooting. He's comfortable firing away from 14-17 feet and sneakily exploits defensive gaps to uncover those shooting opportunities. When he's on, he also can hit numerous consecutive threes and at least has demonstrated the potential to become a deep threat. His shooting mechanics appear to be sound, and his high release enables him to shoot over taller defenders.

    Britt also is quick enough and possesses enough dribble moves to get into the lane. At the 2011 NBPA Top 100 Camp, that's where he shone most. He repeatedly penetrated the interior and either stopped for a short jumper or kicked to an open teammate.

    Examining the bigger picture, Britt clearly has done something right in the eyes of coaches. He earned a bid to USA Basketball's 18-under squad that included players a class ahead of him, along with elite 2013's such as Julius Randle. While most marvel at his lack of statistical production, he has gained invaluable experience against national and international competition. And although he received an incomplete for his time at Oak Hill, he did finish his career there on a high note.

    Deficits

    Breaking down Britt's shortcomings misses the point: The bottom line is that he didn't produce to expectation for an extended period, and he also missed games due to injury. The positives you read above all apply, because he has proved he can score and distribute at a high level.

    With scouts eager to watch him in the late summer, at the Las Vegas Fab 48, Britt too frequently failed to notch an impact on games. He did enjoy at least one strong outing, but on other occasions he was content to pass the ball around the perimeter without making himself a threat. He didn't get into the lane consistently and surprisingly committed ball-handling errors versus pressure. He's a shorter and thinner point guard than most, and thus he can be attacked defensively as well.

    Confidence certainly appears to be a primary issue. He wasn't able to knock down his perimeter jump shot, and the rest of his game appeared to suffer accordingly. Watching him alongside Peters — who over the course of a few months played his way into the top 75 — illuminated the difference between a player amid a hot streak and another who'd been cold. Further, even early this season he did not establish himself as a consistent shot-taker for Oak Hill.

    Watching his jump shot hit the net could do wonders for Britt's mindset, but no one can know what will happen until he does it. UNC commitments also wear a target as other prospects attempt to boost their own stock at the Carolina pledge's expense, and that reality can cause an under-confident young player's performances to snowball. Some recruits over the years have thrived as marked men — including Tyler Hansbrough, Raymond Felton and Sean May — but few possess their raw ability to out-talent the opposition.

    College Projection

    Two primary questions define Britt's storyline between now and this fall. First, can he rediscover his fire and confidence from 2011? Britt not only performed productively, then, he carried himself with a visible sense of self-belief. He needs to win that back for himself, no matter what scouts may write about him.

    Additionally, how will he coexist with Paige simultaneously as a teammate and a rival. Paige will enjoy the advantage of being a year ahead of Britt and must be considered the heavy favorite to maintain the starting job, and if he does how will Britt respond to being a backup at point guard or will he be played some off the ball? Given that Berry will arrive during Britt's sophomore season, that further clouds the future point guard rotation.

    At the minimum, a healthy, stronger and more mature Britt should provide quality reserve minutes. He's a better talent than, say, Quentin Thomas, and expectations for his career therefore should be higher. How quickly he rediscovers form — and whether he can make a serious challenge to Paige and Berry — remains to be seen.

Rob provides basketball recruiting coverage for InsideCarolina.com, including reporting from events throughout the country. Rob is editor of the national basketball recruiting website PrepStars.com and the print magazine Recruiter's Handbook. He also covers UNC basketball games for the Independent Weekly and writes a freelance column for USAToday.com. Rob is a member of the Naismith committee honoring the nation's best high school player and is on the selection committee for the McDonald's All-American Game.


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