As a point guard who can score when necessary, Jay Bittner understands well the need to combine goals on the basketball court at times.
Like many in the JB Hoops program, the 17-year-old senior from Dallas came to Backcourt Hoops in Scranton to boost his own basketball game as a quickly developing high school player and now as a college prospect.
Bittner has found, however, that coming to the team to fit personal needs has done nothing to dissuade the team play that most points guards thrive upon.
“Technically, you are there for yourself to get seen,” said Bittner, a Division III prospect, who has visited Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Case Western Reserve, Ithaca, Muhlenberg and Dickinson in recent months. “But, at the same time, with our team, it’s not like that.”
The JB Hoops players have learned to work together while competing for the attention of college coaches and have developed friendships where high school rivalries sometimes exist.
“We have a group of guys that are my best friends,” Bittner said. “Any time somebody gets an offer, any time someone gets a good look, we congratulate that.”
Bittner said the players and coaches at JB Hoops understand that playing the game the right way will do more to get someone noticed than trying to stand out individually.
“Our kind of thing is, if you play as a team guy, if you play through the system, college coaches know what they are looking for,” Bittner said. “They know who the team guys are and they know who the selfish guys are. We think if we play the right way, that’s going to pay off.”
Bittner is that type of player, according to Mark Belenski, his high school coach.
“Jay’s our leader,” Belenski said in an interview during the 2016-17 season. “He controls the team.”
Belenski has put the offense in Bittner’s hands. The Mountaineers have improved from 4-19 to 8-15 to 12-12 in their three seasons together with Bittner becoming a primary scoring option as a junior. He went from barely scoring as a freshman to being second on the team at about nine points per game as a junior to leading the team with more than 13 points per game last season.
During the fall at Backcourt Hoops, Bittner continues to work on his shot, both its accuracy and the quickness of his release, through a series of special drills.
“We’re always doing in-game types of shots, taking shots we could see in a game, a lot of game-time situations,” said Bittner, who expects to pursue a business, finance or economics major in college.
With a growing group of Dallas teammates who can produce points, Bittner said he does not necessarily plan to shoot more often, but wants to be able to do so more accurately.