Over the past few weeks, multiple sources in the area have reported that North Carolina bound point guard Nate Britt will transfer from Gonzaga College High School to Oak Hill Academy for his senior season of high school basketball. So if Britt is the latest local star to head to the Virginia basketball powerhouse, did Oak Hill get the best player in WCAC or would they have been better served raiding DeMatha for dominating center BeeJay Anya?
After Gonzaga and DeMatha split two matchups last year, Britt’s expected departure from the conference would rob local fans of the opportunity to watch the debate play out on the court, so let’s do it on paper.
Anya is a 6-foot-9, 275-pound spaceater that has the tools to be a defensive anchor at the next level and is ranked by nationally ESPN as the 13th best prospect in the class of 2013. Meanwhile, Britt is an explosive, tempo-changing floor general that is ranked at 22 on the same list.
So the debate comes down to Anya’s imposing presence in the middle or Britt’s ability to lead the break and knife into the lane. Despite the speed and excitement provided by Britt’s game, I’ll take Anya in the middle every time and it starts with defense.
Britt certainly isn’t a slouch on the defensive end of the ball himslef, but the impact of his perimeter defending pails in comparison to that of Anya’s impact as the anchor of the DeMatha defense. A good perimeter defender, even one with the athleticism and quick hands of Britt, can be easily neutralized by good spacing on offense, but a big man like Anya is an offense’s worst nightmare.
When Britt is playing great defense, he can shut down his man and maybe even get in some passing lanes, but Anya’s size and presence in the middle affects everyone because of his ability to protect the rim. Anya can turn good teams into purely jump shooting teams. Just ask Britt, who was unable to get to the rim in his final matchup against the Stags, which ended in a 76-47 DeMatha victory.
Offensively, Britt’s greatest strength is his ability to lead the break and get into the lane, which is no doubt very impressive. But Britt has proven to be a streaky shooter who struggles against good half court defending. If the opposition gets back on defense, Britt isn’t the same electrifying player that he is in transition, while Anya is learning to run the floor and is an enormous asset to a team in their half court sets.
Anya’s ability to score from the post on the low block and be effective at the high post allows the offense to run through him. Britt needs to break down a defender to get in the lane and collapse the defense, while Anya’s presence alone collapses defenses as soon as he catches.
In addition, Anya can be effective without the ball in his hands, while Britt cannot.
So much attention in basketball is put on the guys that can make terrific plays while handling the ball, put a successful team needs guys that can make an impact off of the ball. When Britt reaches Chapel Hill, for example, he may not be counted on to get in the lane and create as much as was at Gonzaga. Britt will need to give up the ball and be able to knock down shots when he’s open and be able to move well without the ball. I think Britt can learn to play that way, but Anya’s offensive rebounding ability and his size on the inside makes him a force regardless of where the ball is.
And how could you turn down Anya’s raw talent? Britt is an explosive player, but the size and increasing athleticism that Anya brings to the table can be molded into something incredibly special.
No WCAC fan wants to see a talent like Nate Britt head out of the league, but let’s not forget that the conference’s most important player is staying put.