Updated: Apr 11, 2020
For the next installment of the Q&A series, Pro Insight presents Nathan Bittle, a five-star 2021 prospect from Central Point, Oregon:
Pro Insight: Describe your game. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses, in your opinion? What’s the most underrated aspect of your game?
Nathan Bittle: I think one of my greatest strengths is being able to extend the court, since I’m so tall and I can shoot it well from the outside. It seems to open up the floor for my teammates, bringing a big outside of the key. One of my weaknesses is probably just me needing to become physically stronger as well as working on my conditioning so I can put more minutes onto the court at a high level. I think maybe one of the more underrated aspects of my game is my ability to put the ball on the floor and bring the ball up the court – I actually played point guard for my high school team for our first 10 games this year when our point guard was out with an injury.
PI: Your dad was a very good player in his own right, having played college ball. What are some things he’s instilled in you and taught you over the years?
NB: I think there’s a lot my dad has helped me with. He has coached me ever since I started playing and he’s always preached the importance of playing together as a team and having a high basketball IQ. I’d say the main thing he’s really instilled in me – and it’s still something he continues to tell me – is that the journey is long and I have to keep getting better, every day.
PI: Who’s the better shooter?
NB: I think it depends on the day. But overall, I would say probably me. But back in the day, my dad could really shoot it…
PI: Your high school coach, Chris Schmerbach, has raved about how you seem to keep calm, cool and collected no matter how intense the situation is on the court. How do you maintain that approach?
NB: I think the main thing is that I never really think of the situation I’m in. I’m just out there playing basketball and I feel like it just comes natural to me.
PI: Over the past year, you’ve participated in multiple mini-camps with USA Basketball. What has the experience been like? What does it mean to you?
NB: Number one, the experience of being able to wear the USA jersey is amazing. Being coached by all of those high-level coaches and just being around all the great players is probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Being able to travel to new cities is cool, too. I’m heading to Florida soon for the U16 tryout, which is really exciting and something I’m looking forward to.
PI: Over the course of your playing days up to this point, who has been the hardest opponent for you to guard? Why?
NB: I have faced quite a few players that are super athletic, fast and strong, but the one that comes to mind is Aidan Igiehon. Last year I played against him and he was just so much physically stronger than me and that guy is super athletic. I can’t wait to watch him at Louisville.
PI: Do you watch more college or NBA basketball? What are your biggest takeaways?
NB: I would say it’s pretty equal, overall. It’s all NBA right now with the playoffs going on. My family loves basketball and it’s on in my house every night. I think my biggest takeaways are how the players move without the ball. I also notice how a lot of forwards and centers are really stretching the floor and knocking down shots from the outside and making plays for teammates passing the ball.
PI: College or pro, current or former player – do you model your game after anyone?
NB: I don’t think I necessarily model my game after one specific player, but I like to watch all of them. I like to watch players that can space the floor, use screens and guys that can really pass the ball.
PI: You have some time to figure it out, but down the line as you prepare to make your college decision, what are some of the top things you’re looking for in a school?
NB: I think the main thing is of course a school that’s going to fit my style of play and utilize my strengths on the court. I want to go somewhere with a winning culture, a team mentality and a fun place to play.
PI: Who would you say has influenced your life the most up to this point? Why?
NB: I think I have a pretty small circle, but of course my parents, my high school coach (Chris Schmerbach) and my AAU coach (Ryan Silver – West Coast Elite). All of them are looking out for my best interest and pushing me to be the best that I can be. They all remind me that it’s a long road and every day I have to keep getting better.
PI: What are four words that best describe you?
NB: Funny. Outgoing. Tall. Special.
PI: Please explain what Nathan Bittle brings to a team, regardless of the situation – give us three things on the court and three things off the court.
NB: On the court, I think I bring leadership, a level of calmness and poise, and just being a mismatch for the opposition. Off the court, I’m bringing reliability, relaxation and I’m someone that’s fostering a brotherhood with my teammates.
PI: What has been a defining moment or story in your life? Why has that stuck with you and what did you learn from it?
NB: Probably my freshman year. We went into the Oregon State Tournament undefeated in league and as one of the top seeds, but we lost and ended up taking sixth place. We lost to a team that we had beat twice earlier in the year. So really what stuck with me is wanting to get back to that stage and do better. This year, we were able to get back to state and we did better, taking fourth, but we have a lot of work to do, still. I want to bring a state title to Crater High School.
PI: What (or who) would you say is your biggest motivation in life?
NB: I just love the game of basketball and my motivation is just getting better every day and really wanting to play at the top level.
PI: What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome? How did you do it? What did that experience teach you?
NB: The biggest obstacle I’ve faced is probably losing in the state tournament these past two years. I really want to get a state title for Crater and for our community. So anytime you lose, it teaches you that you have to get better, stick with it and keep working.
PI: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
NB: Of course my dream would be playing in the NBA, but I know I have a lot of work to do before then. I just need to keep improving every single day.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
NB: Just to go out, have fun, and play how I know how to play the game. And of course my parents, trainers and coaches are always on me that every day I have to get better.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
NB: More than anything, I want to be a great person – someone who’s kind, compassionate and loving. I also want to be one of the best basketball players to ever come out of Oregon.