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Nate Bittle named McDonald's All-American

Central Point’s Nate Bittle secured yet another special honor Tuesday, with the Crater High and now Prolific Prep standout being named a boys basketball McDonald’s All-American for the Class of 2021.

“It’s amazing and I’m so thankful,” Bittle said when reached Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m just very thankful for my parents, grandparents, friends and family and all the people who have been with me through the process.”

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the boys and girls McDonald’s All-American games, which were scheduled to take place on Thursday, will not be played this year. This is the second year in a row the annual showcase will be canceled due to the pandemic.

“Even during an unprecedented year, we were so impressed seeing high school athletes continuing to celebrate the game we all love, while making an impact both on and off the court,” said Joe Wootten, selection committee chairman of the McDonald’s All-American games said via USA Today. “Recognizing that many of these student-athletes had their senior seasons altered or shortened, we wanted to honor them for their skill and dedication to the game of basketball.”

“While we’re disappointed we can’t hold in-person games this year,” he added, “that does not take away from the accomplishments of this class and they will forever be a part of the legendary group of past and present McDonald’s All-Americans.”

Bittle, a 6-foot-11, 200-pound Oregon-bound center, is ranked ninth in the ESPN 100 list and a consensus five-star recruit. The past two years he has received All-American recognition from MaxPreps and USA Today, and Tuesday’s McDonald’s All-American announcement likely signifies that streak will continue.

When he returned home to sign his letter of intent in November, Bittle became the highest-rated in-state commitment for the Ducks in program history, ahead of current Boston Celtics rookie Payton Pritchard.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns for his ability to play basketball as expected here in Oregon, the 17-year-old Bittle has spent this past year playing for Prolific Prep Academy in Napa, California, following three standout seasons at Crater.

In helping Prolific Prep (27-5) to a No. 15 national ranking in the MaxPreps Top 25, Bittle has averaged about 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks per game thus far. Prolific Prep is coached by former Arizona assistant coach Mark Phelps.

The 2021 McDonald’s All-American boys roster features the country’s top talent hailing from 19 different states, including Chet Holmgren (Minnesota), Paolo Banchero (Washington), Jaden Hardy (Nevada) and Jabari Smith (Georgia).

Bittle was the Class 5A state player of the year at Crater for the 2019-20 season — interrupted with the Comets in the state semifinals due to coronavirus precautions — after averaging 25.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals.

Bittle is the highest-rated boys basketball player to come out of Southern Oregon since South Medford High’s Kyle Singler chose Duke as the No. 4 recruit in the nation for the Class of 2007.

Have a story idea? Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Crater High School basketball standout Nathan Bittle smiles while talking with media after signing Saturday to play at the University of Oregon. Photo by Denise Baratta