CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Maybe this 'final four' will help make up for the NCAA Basketball Tournament sports fans in southern Oregon never got this year. Crater High School basketball player and five-star recruit Nate Bittle had narrowed his college landing spot to four schools.
UCLA, Gonzaga, Arizona and Oregon.
"All the schools I picked, they all fit my style of play," Bittle told NewsWatch 12 Sports just after his announcement on Twitter. "They've all coached bigs that can shoot, block shots, finish inside. And a lot of their offense goes through their bigs."
It's one of the reasons why the Central Point-native may not even leave the state. The Ducks made the big man's final four because of their connection with winning and experience with players with a similar style to Bittle's.
"The coaching staff there just built a great relationship with me and they've always had a winning team," Bittle said. "They've coached bigs that can shoot and finish inside. And I mean, for example, in Oregon they had Bol Bol a couple of years ago, a big like me, that can shoot and stuff like that."
The 7-foot-2 former Duck Bol Bol only played in nine games for Oregon before suffering a foot injury that cut his freshman season, and Ducks career, short. He declared for the draft in 2019 and was selected 44th overall by the Miami Heat before being traded to the Denver Nuggets. While at Oregon, Bol Bol averaged 21 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks a game.
Oregon may also be considered a front runner because of Bittle's desire to stay relatively close to home.
"I wanted to stay close to home next to my parents," Bittle said. "I didn't want to go anywhere else besides the West Coast."
Bittle is still waiting and hoping that he'll get to play in his senior season at Crater. In the meantime, he said, he'll just keep working out and trying to improve his game. He'll also take the extra downtime to take a closer look at these final four schools with his family.
Final 4! pic.twitter.com/HObcdBVVic
— Nathan Bittle (@Nathanbittle33) July 31, 2020