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December 6, 2011WASHINGTON, D.C.--- Gonzaga College High School head coach Steve Turner was kind enough to spend a few minutes with Tar Heel Illustrated shortly after his star point guard, Nate Britt, committed to North Carolina.
Britt chose the opportunity of Gonzaga's start-of-year celebration, also known as 'Gonzaga Madness,' to let the world know he wanted to be a Tar Heel.
"Last year we decided to start this to give back to our fans. A big part of what happens and why we're successful is the support that they give to us and we really appreciate it, so we're going to keep this going every year," said Coach Turner.
"It's awesome to be able to have an opportunity to get the guys together, and even more importantly getting the alumni and former players back in here, so a lot of these young guys can see who kind of paved the way before them. And having our fans, our parents, our families out here, it's just an exciting night."
"All these young men and young women that you see here playing tonight, they all dream of having this opportunity (such as Britt's to go to UNC), and this decision come to them one day," Turner continued.
When talking specifically about Britt, the No. 11 overall prospect nationally in the Rivals 150 in the Class of 2013, Coach Turner quickly points out that it's not all just talent.
Turner credits the scrappy 6-2, 160-pounder's work ethic for catapulting his game into position to play in Chapel Hill for the renowned Tar Heel program.
"Nate Britt, who is now going into his third year here at Gonzaga, I think exemplifies a kid who works his tail off, and it's why he's a position make a decision among some of the elite colleges in the country," Turner said. "I'm very proud to call myself his coach and I'm excited for him."
"He's a special kid," Turner added. "Like I said, he's an example of a guy who's put in all the hard work and it's paid off. And that's why he has an opportunity to pick a school like North Carolina, which is one of the elite programs in the country."
Turner has a team full of talented athletes, including multiple underclassmen that are getting recruited and a senior who is signed to play at Loyola-Maryland. Gonzaga's basketball team even has a player who is planning to play lacrosse at national power Johns Hopkins.
He pointed out that he's careful not to interfere with his players' recruitments, and that he'll provide a buffer from outside distractions without getting too heavily involved in the process or the decision itself.
"We (Britt and I) talked periodically (about recruiting), but not what he should do or what decision he should make," Turner said.
"One of the things I've always tried to do is not always put all my two cents in. I think it's important for the kids to be able to make their own decisions, because at the end of the day when they go to college, it's going to be on them. It's not going to be on me. It's not going to be on their parents. And if they get in a situation where they hit the brick wall, they've got to be able to get out of it."
"A lot of times the decision is made by others, and then the kid decides, 'It's their fault. They made the decision for me.' I think when a kid makes his own decision, at the end of the day he's going to persevere through any kind of hardships," Turner added.
Turner is naturally happy for Britt that he's attending the school he wanted to attend, but he says that even had he waited longer, the recruitment wouldn't have been a distraction for him or his team.
"It's never really been a distraction for me (dealing with recruitments)," Turner said. "My job is to try to make it as 'least' of a distraction for them. I'm the buffer. I'm the guy that's going to take it, and if phone calls need to be stopped, I'm the one that's going to say, 'Phone calls need to stop.'"
"It's never really been an issue for me, but for him I think it's something he's been holding inside, the decision (to commit to UNC). Now he's able to make that decision, now he can be able to enjoy it, and he can enjoy it with family and friends."
In terms of comparisons to past UNC point guards, Coach Turner says he sees in Britt a combination of different players. He's got the speed that is comparable to Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton, but he also does a nice job of getting teammates involved.
As a conference rival in the storied WCAC---the talented inner-city and suburban D.C. hotbed of hoops talent---Turner got to see current UNC point guard Kendall Marshall up close and personal when he played for rival Bishop O' Connell.
"I think he (Britt) is a little different than some of the guys that have been there (at North Carolina), and also he's a lot alike," Turner said.
"With Kendall, Kendall's expertise is that upcourt pass. He doesn't beat you with blazing speed. He beats you with putting the ball ahead and getting guys to the rim easily, or finding guys in the halfcourt set."
"I think Nate probably has a little more similarity to guys like a Ty Lawson or Raymond Felton, who are going to beat you with the speed, and get it up the floor quickly, but also has the same knack like Kendall to make the players around him better," Turner added.
Turner will have the benefit of two full seasons with Britt as his ace ball handler, court general, and overall floor leader.
And over that time, he'll help shape and mold a young man who is a big part of North Carolina's future backcourt plans later this decade.