GREENSBURG, Pa. – As a 6’6” sophomore at Rocky Grove High School in Franklin, Nate Burt began his journey in the game of basketball.
(Photos courtesy of Pitt-Greensburg Sports Information office)
It may have been a late start in comparison to many of his peers, but he has made up for lost time with hard work and respect for the game.
Burt helped lead his high school teams to the District 10 semi-finals during his time with the Orioles, with his play improving considerably in just those three years of high school experience. Both the Clarion Rising Stars and Rocky Grove basketball had a hand in his development and have shaped him into a better player.
The Franklin native had a chance to continue his college basketball career by way of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and he made the most of his four years with the Bobcats. Coming in as a first-year, the team featured an overwhelming majority of first-year players, so growing pains were necessary.
However, by the end of this talented group’s senior season (2019-2020), they were winners of 20 games and were the number two seed in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament (AMCC). While their quest to win their conference and appear in the NCAA Division III Tournament fell short, the strides this program made in Burt’s four years were tremendous.
In four years with the Bobcats program, he appeared in an even 100 games over four seasons and scored 364 points. He also grabbed 258 boards and rejected 141 shots, including setting the Pitt-Greensburg record for blocked shots in a game when he swatted nine shots against Ohio State-Lima on December 30, 2017. Burt is also top ten all-time in Pitt-Greensburg men’s basketball history in field goal percentage.
At 7’0”, Burt certainly is a presence in the paint on both sides of the ball, and he soon will have an opportunity to secure a professional contract. This weekend, Burt and other professional basketball hopefuls will be trying to make their dreams come true by impressing scouts from foreign nations who are recruiting for their programs.
Jerell Figueroa, a graduate of Pitt-Greensburg in 2016, now works for USA Select, a company that helps players from the United States get a chance to play basketball in Europe. He helped Burt locate the opportunity to try out with 20-30 other players in Pittsburgh on Saturday, March 13, to secure a spot in the USA Select National Showcase in Greensboro, North Carolina. Approximately eight to ten players from Pittsburgh will be invited to the national showcase.
From the national event, various players will be signed to professional contracts, with others being able to sign overseas tours to play in front of more professional scouts and programs from Europe. Overall, it the dream of a lifetime for Burt, who is close to potential beginning life as a professional athlete.
Coming from Franklin and going to Rocky Grove, he would join elite companies of natives who have played sports at the professional level. He took that seriously and had this to say about his love for his home area: “It honestly means a lot. I do what I do for myself and my family, but I keep in the back of my mind that I am doing this for my community and home as well. I have to give a lot of credit to the teammates and coaches I have had over the years for pushing me and believing in me as a player.”
As a tenth grader, Burt gave basketball a shot for the first time because his childhood friends pressured him into joining the Orioles team, and this decision has changed the trajectory of his life for the better. Finding basketball helped transform Burt from a first-time athlete to one of District 10 and then the AMCC’s most feared players. In all, he has only been playing basketball for about seven years, but his love for the sport has and only is growing.
The people in his corner who he gives the most credit for shaping his career and life include his family, Coach Brody Jackson from Pitt-Greensburg, coaches Ryan Umbenhauer and Jeff Davis from Rocky Grove, and his teammates Cody Spaid, Torian Jenkins. Each of these people has kept him motivated and remained supportive over the years in his quest to continue his basketball career past high school and college.
Later this year, Burt will obtain his bachelor’s degree in English literature with a focus on creative and professional writing. He is hopeful to one day have a career in technical writing after his days in basketball come to a close. While his eligibility ran out for basketball in 2020, he has been playing in some men’s basketball leagues in the Pittsburgh Area to keep himself in shape. He also has been able to get in the gym to work on some conditioning and to lift weights to keep his body right over the last year.
Some big opportunities lie ahead for the Venango County native as he soon will finish his undergraduate years and possibly head to Europe to begin a career as a basketball player.