CENTRAL POINT -- On first glance, you wouldn't think 6' 9" Crater forward Nathan Bittle was a freshman. Sure, his size would fool you, but his sheer talent on the basketball court would make you think he's already an upper classmen as well.
"At his age, his basketball IQ is one of the best attributes of his game," said Ryan Bittle, Nathan's dad who played at North Medford and eventually Oregon Tech in college.
Ryan's journey saw him break out in his senior season at North Medford. By his junior season in college, he had signed with Oregon Tech to play under legendary coach Danny Miles, someone Ryan Bittle said had a huge influence on his life.
"He’s a tremendous father figure. Even more than just a basketball coach, he's just a father figure,” Ryan Bittle said.
So now, with a son more talented at an earlier age than him, Ryan is doing everything he can to make sure Nathan realizes his gigantic potential. Never pushing the sport on him, he has helped him develop ball skills uncanny for players his age. He's also gotten Nathan work with trainers as far as Portland to continue to develop his game.
"Basketball has just always been fun," Nathan Bittle said, "my brother and I would go play on our basketball court outside and it's just fun, you know?"
Bittle and his Crater teammates have been having a lot of fun this season. They are 10-0, have won by an average margin of victory of 25 points and have run through just about everyone they've played. Bittle, again just a freshman, is a starter and key contributor on that team.
The short-term focus for Bittle is to get better every day and help Crater strive for a state championship at season's end. In the long term, though, he has his sights set much higher.
"My dad knows what it takes to get to a junior college, but I want to get to a Division-1 college," Bittle said, "I want to be better than my dad."