It’s been a pretty good year for sophomore Nathaniel Britt II, the son of a detective in the financial crimes unit of the Washington D.C. police department. He took over the reins from current Duke freshman point guard Tyler Thornton, his predecessor at both D.C. Assault and Gonzaga HS, an academically-challenging Jesuit school in our nation’s capitol. In his first year on the job, the 6’1″ lead guard was named D.C.’s Gatorade Player of the Year, an award that tries to take into account on and off-the-court achievements., and first-team All-WCAC.
The left-handed point guard led Gonzaga to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Championship game and scored 16 points in the game, but lost 51-48 to arch-rival DeMatha, as the team was undermanned with Kris Jenkins, a first-team All-WCAC selection, rendered helpless due to an injury in the prior game. For the season, Nate Britt averaged nearly 14 points, over 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and nearly four steals per game. Often viewed as a cerebral player for his class, Britt had a better than four to one assist to turnover ratio in his sophomore campaign. (2701 word interview ahead) [private]
Kris Jenkins, a bulky 6’6″ South Carolinian transplant, met Nate at an AAU event several years ago and, although they were on opposite teams, they immediately hit it off. Jenkins went to spend some time in Maryland with the Britts, joined D.C. Assault, and ultimately moved into the Britt’s house full-time. Jenkins’ mother, Felicia, the head coach at Benedict College in South Carolina, liked the discipline that Nate Sr. demanded of the boys. They began to attend Mater Dei in Bethesda, MD for middle school and were ultimately joined by 6’5″ D.J. Fenner, son of veteran NFL receiver, Derrick Fenner. The trio have built chemistry and brought their winning ways to Gonzaga. Several colleges, including Georgetown, Seton Hall, and Virginia Tech, are recruiting all three Gonzaga and D.C. Assault sophomores.
At the recent Pittsburgh Jam Fest, Nate Britt led D.C. Assault Gold to (2686 word interview awaits) [private] the Elite 8 of the tournament. Losing 67-61 to All-Ohio Red in the quarterfinals on Sunday morning, Britt scored ten of his fifteen points down the stretch, while trying to close the ultimately insurmountable gap. Twice during the tournament, the personable Nate spoke with us.
Which colleges are most interested in you?
Which colleges are calling? Oh, UCLA, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgetown, Villanova, Arizona, Virginia. Oh, and Texas and Duke.
Can you talk about winning the Gatorade Player of the Year award for D.C?
Oh, yeah, that was a great accomplishment. Tyler did that. We’ve had it at Gonzaga for, like, the last three years.
Yeah, you, Tyler (Thornton of Duke), Ian (Hummer of Princeton), and Max (Kenyi of Harvard)
That was good. It was a great accomplishment and I was really surprised by that.
Especially as a sophomore..
Yeah, exactly, as a sophomore, I didn’t really expect it.
Can you talk about your season overall?
The Gonzaga season? Sure, it was a pretty good season, I guess. We lost in the championship game to DeMatha. That was a tough one to take because it was so close.
Well, (Kris) Jenkins was out hurt with an injury and suddenly couldn’t play.
Right, but we pretty much had a young team. So, next year, we’re bringing a lot of good people back. Our best players are coming back. So, we’re fully expecting to win it next year.
Lauren of NBE: What are you focusing on improving this spring?
Knocking down the three-point shot. That’s my biggest thing that I want to improve on and focusing on getting stronger. I feel like I can get to the basket anytime I want, but I need to be able to add strength so I can find my teammates and score even more around the basket. I’ve just got to focus my energy on improving my three-point shot. I definitely want to be able to knock down the three-point shot more consistently and have confidence in it.
You may’ve felt as you touched on this in the prior question, but what do you think is your greatest strength right now or the thing that distinguishes you from your peers?
Yeah, sure, I think my strengths right now are being a playmaker, being able to get my teammates involved. You know being able to get them shots and being able to get myself shots. I guess, in terms of my weaknesses, I’d say it’s just shooting the three and being able to knock it down with confidence. That’s my biggest thing…adding confidence in being able to shoot it.
What about your mid-range? Do you feel okay about that?
Oh, yeah, I feel okay about that, but it’s also something I’d like to be able to concentrate on this summer. I’ve been trying to work everyday to get ready for next year.
What did Coach Turner ask you to work on over the summer?
Oh, yeah, he just said to just consistently work on developing my three-point shot. Just keep working at it. That’s the number one goal. Yeah, yeah.
What about visits? Do you have any planned? Which ones have you taken?
I’m planning on Texas soon. I was supposed to visit this spring, but we’ve been real busy with AAU this spring. I went to Duke at, like, the beginning of the year.
With Tyler Thornton?
Yeah, with Tyler, that was pretty cool. That was real fun. I went down to Virginia and that was real fun. And Virginia Tech. So, I definitely want to go to Texas sometime this summer. Hopefully, it won’t be too hot down there.
Another honor you earned recently was being named First-team WCAC. That was another major achievement for a sophomore.
Right, I was also really surprised about that too, but it was a great accomplishment. Us being one of he better teams at Gonzaga, I guess they felt several of us should be candidates, and I was fortunate to be named.
Well, you were the straw that stirred the drink this year.
Tell the audience about your unusual relationship with Kris Jenkins and D.J. Fenner. How you guys came together from different areas of the country, went to middle school at Mater Dei together, go to high school together, and whether you plan on attending college together?
We definitely talk about it. I mean we met in middle school and then we took that onto high school.
Can you explain to the audience how you guys met in AAU?
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. When I first saw Kris was when we played against him in South Carolina and we played each other in the Nationals. we met him and then he started playing with us. Then, D.J. moved back here because his father is from here.
Then, he moved back to Seattle.
Yeah, and then he moved back here. Then, he started playing with us. Then, we started playing in school together and we played with D.C. Assault together. We created a bond and we wanted to take that to high school. That’s definitely something we want to take to take to college, if possible.
Are colleges consciously going after all three of you at this point?
Have you talked about it and are you serious about it?
Oh, yeah, we’re definitely serious about it. That’s definitely something we want to do.
Do you have a timeframe for when you want to decide on a school?
Oh, I’m not really sure, but maybe sometime in my junior year. That’s pretty much when I’m hoping for. Right now, I’m just taking it all in and enjoying the visits.
As a lefty, what kind of advantages do you think you have on both sides of the ball, especially when you first go out there?
Oh, I think it’s harder to guard left-handed players
Because you don’t see it as often.
Right, because most people are right handed. So, when you face someone left-handed, it’s a little bit harder and that can just be the edge you need.
And do you think it gives you an advantage defensively? In boxing, for example, my father used to talk about watching out for southpaws because you’re simply not used to getting hit so hard from that side.
(laughs) Right, yeah, I think it does because I’ve been playing against right-handers me whole life, but, being a lefty, I know how to guard left-handed players too.
What’s your current size?
I’m 6’1″ and 165, but I definitely want to hit the weight room this summer and get stronger. Add muscle
What are you projected to be by the doctor?
(laughs) I haven’t been to the doctor’s in a while, but I know I want to add some muscle before I head into next season.
Can you tell the audience about your father? He’s a detective. Do you have any interest in following in your father’s footsteps after your basketball career is over?
(laughs) No, no, I don’t think I’m going to go into that.
Your father comes up a lot with people I either talk to or in articles written about you. They say Nathaniel Britt. I assume he’s going to play a big role in your decision. Is he a real role model for you?
Yeah, he’s definitely my role model and my best friend.
You’ve grown up around a lot of quality point g your game after?uard, but who do you try to model
I would say my favorite player is Kyrie Irving.
I know Kyrie. He’s from my area.
I’d like to model my game after him.
That’s a good model and he’s a great kid.
Yeah, he is. I also like to watch Rajon Rondo. Some people say I play like Deron Williams. Those are my favorites. Kyrie especially and Rondo’s got a similar body type.
Deron’s like 6’3″ to 6’4″
Yeah, he’s a big guard, but Rondo is like me 6’1″ and about 175.
How do you feel about the legacy of DC Assault guards and how it really seems to pass down knowledge and work ethic from year to the next? You know Tyler Thornton from Gonzaga and then Quinn Cook last year. For an AAU program, they’ve been very good at building a sense of brotherhood and community with players, coaches, and the parents.
That’s been really great because all of them are my brothers. It really started with Austin Freeman and Nolan. Because we’ve all been in the program since we were very little and all of them are like brothers to me. We started out really young and have just stayed very tight through the program. From when I first met Kris in South Carolina, I was in the program.I grew up just looking up to Nolan and Austin. When I visited Duke, I was with Nolan, like, the whole time.
He’s a great guy.
Yeah, he is. And then Georgetown’s right around the way from me.
Markel (Starks) is like a brother to me. I hang out with him. Then, Tyler and Cedric Lindsey and I all went to Gonzaga and DC Assault together.
Are you guys still close?
We’re all very close. Before the championship game, me and Tyler were talking for a little while. Giving me advice.
Even though he’s a DeMatha guy, what about Quinn?
(laughs) Quinn went to DeMatha and he was there, but we’re all very close.
Going back to the visits, give the audience a sense of what the experience was like. What did you see? What did you do?
Oh, okay, well, I think the first one was Duke. I went to Duke and I was with Tyler the whole time. Tyler’s like my brother, like I said with D.C. Assault, Gonzaga, and all that, and he just showed me all around. We went to the football game and, when I was there, we saw them play Alabama. I went to that game and it was a good atmosphere. It was. It was. I think the next morning we just hung out and went to the cafeteria.
You spent the night at his place.
Yeah, I spent the night in his place in his dorm. It was a lotta fun.
So, you were there with Kyrie and Josh too.
Yeah, it was awesome. We was all having fun. It was great.
How is their dorm room? Is it nice?
It is nice. It’s a big room with three beds. It’s pretty nice.
Where did you go next, Virginia?
Yeah, I went to Virginia after. We went to their football game. They played…who’d they play? I think they played James Madison. Yeah, they played James Madison. We went to that football game and toured around their campus. Then, we came back.
Who did you meet there?
I met the coach. I met the coach and then we watched the practice.
At Duke, did you meet the coaches or strictly the players?
Just the players.
Back to Virginia, you met with the coaches.
Yeah, I met with the coaches. I went with my coach, my high school coach, Steve Turner, and then later we came back that night.
He’s a great coach.
Yeah, he is.
Now, on that trip, was it you and Kris?
Yeah, it was Kris, D.J., and I. At Duke, it was just me.
After that trip, where next?
After that, we went up to Villanova for their…what is it? Like their Midnight Madness, it was called Hoopsmania. We went up there for that. It was fun and we had a great time. I liked it a lot. I got to watch a scrimmage.
Did you get a chance to play with the players at all?
No, not there, but, when I went to Duke, I think I probably did a little bit.
Have you seen any since Philadelphia? Georgetown? You’re so close.
Yeah, I always go over to Georgetown. It’s just so close, but I just basically go over to Georgetown and hang out with Markel.
Do you want to touch on Georgetown?
Yeah, I mean I always want to stay close to home. I don’t want to go too far.
Are you a homebody?
Is distance going to be a major factor for you? How far is “far?”
Yeah, it’s definitely gonna be a factor. Um, I’d really like to stay on the east coast, but, if the opportunity is better somewhere else, I’m going to take it. I’d definitely like to stay on the east coast. (laughs)
What are you looking for ideally in a program?
A place that I like the coaches personally, a coach that puts the ball in his guard’s hands, and a place that feels like home.
Now, we know you don’t want to be a detective with the DC police, but do you have any interest in going into coaching in the future?
Yes, yes, that’s definitely something I want to do. Yeah, absolutely, I feel like I’m a real heady ballplayer and person.
That’s why I asked.
Right, right. That’s definitely something I’d like to do.
At what level?
I think first at the high school level, but I’d definitely like to coach in college. That’s where I want to be.
By the way, as a current player, do you think Coach Turner will eventually coach in college?
Oh, yeah, I think he will because he’s a great coach He knows what he’s doing.
If you don’t go into coaching, what would you like to do after basketball?
I love science so I might want to do something in science. I’m good at science and math, but, like I said, I’d like to go into coaching or maybe training.
So, you think you’re in good shape?
(laughs) Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe personal training
Which schools are the ones that are recruiting all three of you?
Georgetown is recruiting all three of us. 1 Hall and I think Virginia Tech. I know there’s more, but I’m not absolutely one hundred percent.
Lastly, do you guys have a nickname? The trio? Three amigos? Something cheesy?
(laughs) No, no, we don’t have anything yet, but we gotta come up with something.
Alright, thanks, Nate.
Sure, sure. [/private]