Switch shooter

Jul. 10, 2014 @ 09:42 PM

Rising sophomore Nate Britt has come up with an unusual way to increase his offensive production – switching his shooting hand.

After posting 6.7 points a game as a senior at Oak Hill Academy and 5.1 points on 36.7 percent shooting in his freshman year at North Carolina, the formerly-lefthanded point guard has started shooting exclusively with his right hand this summer.

“The right hand does feel a whole lot more natural,” Britt said during his offseason media availability on Thursday. “The mechanics I’ve been told look a whole lot better. …When I first picked up a basketball, my natural instinct was to shoot with my right hand, even though I was lefthanded.”

Britt said that he grew up shooting with both hands but decided he needed to concentrate on one by the time he got to high school in order to maximize his efficiency in practice. He went with his left – the hand he uses to write and play racket sports like tennis and ping pong, though he throws a baseball with his right hand.

Britt shot 79.4 percent from the line as a freshman, the second-best mark on the team, but he struggled on his jumper and wasn’t comfortable enough to shoot from behind the arc – he attempted only 12 3-pointers and made three.

“If I have the confidence and the capability to knock down the outside shot, then that will help us a lot,” Britt said.

Britt said that during high school shootarounds or in pick up games, he would sometimes decide to shoot with his right hand for the day. He went back to using his right hand in the gym once last season ended and decided to make the switch permanent after consulting with the coaches.

Though he said that “quite a few people” thought he was crazy for making such a big adjustment this late in his development, everyone he grew up with understood.

“Everyone who’s seen me play with both felt like it wasn’t a big deal,” Britt said.

Fellow point guard Marcus Paige said that he’s seen an immediate difference. 

“His righthand shot is so smooth and he gets it off a lot more effortlessly,” Paige said. “The left hand had a little bit of a hitch in it. He’s really confident and he’s putting in the work. Obviously it’s got to be tough switching hands – I couldn’t imagine playing my whole career and then switching hands, it’s unbelievable – but he’s put in enough work to where he’s comfortable with it.

“I’m happy with the results so far. It looks good.”

Britt’s right hand is stronger, which should allow him to extend his range. If he can become a more accurate long-range shooter, it should take some of the burden off of Paige, who is the only returning 3-point threat now that Leslie McDonald has graduated.

“It makes us extremely dangerous if he can consistently knock that down,” Paige said.

If defenders have to honor Britt's shot, Paige said it would also prevent them from clogging up driving lanes and doubling the post.

Britt was thrust into a big role right away last season, starting the first 16 games because of season-opening suspensions to expected starters Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston. Overall, he felt he had “a pretty solid season… but there’s always a lot of things I feel like I (could) have done better.”

That includes shooting, and he’s willing to take an unexpected approach to fix it.

Follow UNC beat writer Harold Gutmann on Twitter at @haroldgut.