Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.

Patriot pitcher Nathan Bassett went from unknown to UVA commitment in one month

On the first day of Patriot High School baseball tryouts last February, Nathan Bassett threw two straight eye-popping pitches.

Pitch No. 1 generated excitement after it hit 90 miles per hour. The hard, on-target throw impressed Pioneers’ catcher and Indiana signee AJ Shepard enough that Shepard turned to head coach Nick Grove and said “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Bassett’s second pitch, however, generated concern. Instead of finding Shepard’s mitt again, the ball flew across Bassett’s body and into the tarp tunnel pushed up against the fence down the right-field line.

“Do I need to be scared?” Grove asked half-jokingly.

The then-junior right-hander possessed potential. No doubt about that. But Bassett also needed work as he struggled to locate his pitches. The two extremes made sense when you consider he’d only focused on pitching for just over a year and had never pitched in a high school game at any level.

So given Bassett’s inexperience and Patriot’s senior-heavy varsity team, Grove placed Bassett on the junior varsity to develop without feeling overwhelmed.

But Grove made the move with this caveat: If things went as planned, Grove believed Bassett would do something special senior season.

“When it’s his time, he will dominate,” Grove said.


All signs point to Grove’s prediction coming true.

After staying under the radar through last summer, Bassett’s profile exploded in September after a number of Power 5 colleges saw him pitch. Within a month, Bassett went from unknown to University of Virginia commitment. And in so doing, he bucked convention.

Rarely do major college baseball powers like Virginia discover a talent like Bassett’s so late in the recruiting game. By a player’s senior season, most high-profile programs like the Cavaliers have already wrapped up their recruiting classes for that graduation year as more underclassmen commit early.

“A lot of kids have his ability,” said Jon Walker, director of the Dirtbags, the travel team Bassett played for last year. “What’s rare is the timing.”

Bassett pitched some in youth leagues just to provide an extra arm. But there was no expectation he’d do it full-time.

Instead, he played catcher and outfielder until he was 14 and switched to the outfield to take advantage of his strong arm and ability to read the ball off the bat.

Then in March 2021, everything changed after Bassett attended a one-day throwing camp with his travel team at The Bullpen in Sterling.

It didn’t matter the facility only catered to pitchers. It was an opportunity for the players to focus on proper arm care as well as serve as a team-bonding event.

Each player received a video assessment after they threw. Bassett, who went last, thought nothing about it when his turn came.

Zach Dials, however, liked what he saw. A former professional pitcher and The Bullpen’s owner, Dials took one look at Bassett’s arm strength and mobility and knew this kid was a natural pitcher.

Afterward, Dials shared his thoughts with Bassett. Bassett told Dials he wasn’t a pitcher, but Dials convinced him to reconsider. With a teachable personality and a disciplined mindset, Bassett agreed to let Dials help him.

Bassett put in the necessary time and his commitment paid off. He added 40 pounds to his current 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame in part by eating at least 4,500 calories a day. Grove remembers one day last season when he saw Bassett on his phone during practice while eating nuts. Initially Grove thought Bassett was messing around. He soon discovered Bassett was in fact checking his calorie intake.

The additional strength improved Bassett’s fastball from 81 to 95 miles per hour. Dials was so high on Bassett’s potential he believed Bassett would become a pro someday and throw 100 miles per hour.

“Not a lot of kids in my last 11 years have outworked him,” Dials said. “He goes about things in a business-like, professional way. That’s a big part of his success.”

As Bassett flourished on the mound, he became more confident in his pitching abilities. The key was now enhancing his profile to gain exposure.

During the first weekend of September, Bassett attended a Perfect Game Showcase in Maryland. At the time, Bassett did not play for a travel team after his previous team folded over the summer due to a lack of players.

But Bassett quickly created some buzz when Todd Coffey, a former major league pitcher and a current national scouting coordinator for Perfect Game, saw Bassett warm up. Coffey became more intrigued by Bassett after he stood behind home plate and watched Bassett pitch the first inning.

In what became a common question, Coffey wondered who this kid was and where did he come from? There was no scouting report on him. No ranking. He was a mystery.

After connecting with Bassett and Bassett’s father Spencer. Coffey wanted to find a spot for Bassett to play. Coffey knew the perfect person: Jon Walker.

Walker said the Dirtbags, whose organization is based in North Carolina, take talented high school baseball players to tournaments around the East Coast to showcase them in front of colleges.

Based on Coffey’s recommendation, Walker agreed to bring Bassett down for a closer look at a tournament the weekend of Sept. 10-11 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

Like he’d done for Grove, Dials and Coffey, Bassett impressed Walker with his clean delivery and how the ball exploded out of his hand. The whirlwind picked up after Walker sent out a video of Bassett on Twitter. Walker said at least 50 colleges reached out, but did so with skepticism.

“What’s wrong with him?” they asked Walker. If he’s this good, then schools believed they should have already known about him.


Before the Perfect Game Showcase, Bassett had offers from Division II Francis Marion University and CCBC Catonsville (MD).

Interest from Power 5 schools picked up Sept. 16-19 when Bassett helped the 17U Dirtbags reach the championship game of the PBR Cup in Atlanta. It was there that the University of Virginia began to track Bassett closely.

At the time, the Cavaliers had a spot still open for either a right or left-handed pitcher in their 2023 recruiting class.

Virginia pitching coach Drew Dickenson spotted Bassett warming up and was hooked.

“It went from who is this guy to this is a no-brainer,” Dickenson said in Virginia’s decision to recruit Bassett. “It wasn’t guaranteed we would get the kid. Others liked him as well. We were really excited about him. His stuff is fantastic.”

On the day the tournament concluded, Dickenson called Bassett as Bassett and his father drove home Sept. 19. Dickenson wanted to let Bassett know the Cavaliers were interested in him and that they’d like him to visit the school.

A week later, Bassett traveled to Charlottesville and enjoyed everything about the campus. On Sept. 30, Bassett committed to the Cavaliers.

He also took an unofficial visit to Virginia Commonwealth University. He planned on visiting Alabama but did not after the school told him they could not match Virginia’s offer.

“[Virginia] had all of the things that were important to me,” Bassett said. “It's close to home, it's a great school both academically and baseball wise. The level of play in the ACC is very competitive and will improve me if I put in the work.”

All the attention caught Bassett off guard.

“I guess I was surprised because there were so many really good schools that reached out, especially since it was late in the process,” Bassett said. “And I just never have thought of myself on that level.”

His dad agrees.

“What amazes me the most is the speed that it all happened,” Spencer Bassett said. “How he could go from an unknown ghost to viral in a couple weeks?”

Bassett’s late pitching start has a built-in advantage. While other kids may have overworked arms by the time they arrive at college, Bassett’s arm is still fresh with high upside.

“He’s not as polished, but who cares,” Dickenson said. “We will do the polishing here.”

What makes Bassett’s story even more amazing is that he was born deaf in both ears.

The reason his hearing loss doesn’t garner more attention is because it’s almost impossible to detect. He never did speech therapy. And the only evidence he’s deaf are the Cochlear implants tucked behind both ears that he received as a 10-month-old.

“I don't really think anyone else thinks anything of it, and it doesn't restrict me in any way,” Bassett said.

It’s how Bassett approaches each challenge.

“I don't think anything stops Nate because he has incredible focus, belief in his ability, and drive to work as hard as possible,” Spencer Bassett said.


Based on alphabetical order for each player’s last name, Bassett stood first in line when pitchers took the mound Feb. 21. This was the first day of Patriot tryouts and everyone got a look whether they were returning varsity players or not.

With no need to throw hard, Bassett tossed less than 16 pitches that ranged between 89 and 91 miles per hour.

Grove thought Bassett’s delivery looked clean. But Barrett, always his own toughest critic, expressed dissatisfaction with his accuracy and how his body felt.

After Bassett threw his last pitch, Grove lightened things up by calling Bassett over with some bad news. Grove told Bassett he was cutting him from the team. He wasn’t good enough.

Knowing Grove was kidding, Bassett played along. He thanked Grove for giving him an opportunity.

It was easy for both to laugh during the exchange. Unlike last season, Bassett is clearly a different pitcher, one that will bolster a rotation that includes two other Division I signees in Jordan Capuano (UNC-Wilmington) and Jakob Foster (Mount St. Mary’s).

“He’s much more polished and more confident,” Grove said. “It’s good when a kid gets good and realizes it.”

Grove remembers when Bassett first came out for baseball as a junior. Since he had never seen him before or even heard of him, Grove assumed Bassett was a freshman.

When Bassett told Grove he was in fact a junior, Grove was stunned.

Bassett did not try out for baseball at Patriot as a freshman because of a knee injury. He declined to come out as a sophomore because of the uncertainty over COVID and the pandemic-shortened season.

Bassett heeded Dial’s advice to wait until his junior year to try out.

When Grove assigned him to the junior varsity, Bassett understood the decision.

But as he thought about how far he’s come from a year ago, Bassett remains reserved. He feels more comfortable in his role. But he refuses to let any of his recent success deter him from doing whatever he can to improve.

“I know my place this year,” is all Bassett says for now. He’d rather see how he does before saying more.

Foster, for one, can’t wait to see how Bassett does this season. The two have become close friends since getting more familiar with each other as juniors.

Foster raves about Bassett’s work ethic, humility and the nasty slider he baffles batters with. Most of all, though, Foster is grateful to have Bassett as a teammate. Yes, Patriot features a good rotation without Bassett. Now they are better with a player who is no longer a question mark. He’s a mainstay.

“He deserves everything he gets,” Foster said.

David Fawcett is the sports editor for Reach him at

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News