- C.L. Brown, ESPN Staff Writer
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North Carolina coach Roy Williams watched Nate Britt struggle with shooting during his freshman season. When he broke down the mechanics of Britt's left-handed shot, he noticed an obvious hitch in his form and it actually made Williams think about the tape he watched of Britt while the guard was being recruited.
Williams said Nate Britt Sr. recorded drills of his 11-year-old son coming off imaginary picks that were cones placed on the ground.
"When he'd come off one way he'd shoot left-handed," Williams said. "And when he'd come off the other way he'd shoot right-handed and it looked great."
Williams called Britt's father with the "crazy idea" of Nate switching hands and Britt's father said he was actually thinking the same thing. Thus began Nate's journey.
Plenty of players adjust their shooting mechanics during the course of their college career, but very few could even consider the option of changing hands.
Britt has had people call him crazy for alternating hands while shooting throughout his playing career.
"Everyone who has seen me play with both doesn't feel like it's a big deal," he said.
Britt writes left-handed and considers himself a southpaw although when it comes to sports he said "anything with a stick or a club" he plays right-handed. So he doesn't consider his ambidextrous whims to be that much of a challenge.
"I feel the same," Britt said. "I think I do feel like the right hand felt more natural even from when I first picked up a basketball my natural instinct was to shoot with my right hand."
Around the ninth grade Britt said he decided to shoot exclusively with his left hand with the thought that concentrating on one hand would help him improve. But that wasn't the case last season.
Britt shot just 36.7 percent from the floor and made just 3 of 12 3-pointers for the Tar Heels. Aside from the stats, Williams was concerned with the "significant hitch" in Britt's form. Once he left his feet he had a tendency to twist his entire lower torso. He also fell into the habit of shooting with his left hand positioned more on the side of the ball than underneath it.
"We showed it to him on tape but still sometimes you can't change it," Williams said.
Ironically, Williams doesn't want Britt to change at the free throw line. He'll continue to shoot those left-handed since his shot doesn't have the same glitch when he stays on the ground. Britt shot 79 percent from the free throw line last season, which ranked second behind Marcus Paige on the team.
Britt hopes he can join Paige to give the Tar Heels another 3-point threat. He said shooting right-handed has given him more range because his right hand is stronger than his left. Paige, who's probably worked out with Britt more than any other player on the team, already believes the change is for the better.
"His right hand shot is so smooth and he gets it off a lot more effortlessly," Paige said.
Britt averaged nearly 21 minutes per game last season and started 16 games -- including the first nine games while Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston awaited ruling on their eligibility.
Britt's playing time as a sophomore could be largely determined by how well he can contribute offensively, with freshman guard Joel Berry and wings Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson ready to contribute immediately. The trio gives Williams plenty of backcourt options that the Tar Heels simply didn't have last season.
Britt said he was not concerned about being lost in the rotation. And his new shot is the reason why he doesn't have to be.
"He feels good about it now -- it's a much smoother stroke, it's got better spin, more consistent arc to me," Williams said. "It is strange. I've never had anybody suggest (changing hands) by any means, but looks to me like it's working. That's the best way to say it."
33dJeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello
33dJeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello