Truman State University guard Nathan Messer is only a sophomore, but on the court it would be hard to point out #33 as an underclassman. According to his teammates and coaches, Messer visibly obtains maturity and leadership qualities above his years — qualities secured during his time at the Naval Academy.
Messer is part of the potent three-point attack the Truman men boast this year. Truman ranks first in the GLVC in three-point field goal percentage and three-pointers made per game. Messer says he committed to the Bulldogs last summer after he decided the military career path wasn’t for him, but he says his Navy experience wasn’t in vain.
“You can see yourself go a lot further than you may have expected,” Messer says.
Going into his year at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island, Messer says he didn’t know much about the military other than he wanted to try it. One year later, he was a freshman at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, playing a total of three minutes in two games. He says he ultimately wanted to embark on a new journey for his sophomore campaign, which eventually landed him a spot on the Bulldogs roster.
Messer has flourished in his inaugural season with Truman, averaging 13.1 points per game and making 42 percent of his shots from three-point range. His production places him third on the team in scoring. He is also fourth on the team in three-point percentage — among all Bulldogs with at least 45 attempts beyond the arc —behind sophomore Jake Velky and seniors Cory Myers and Kyle Kanaskie.
With 80 percent of his shot attempts of the three-point variety, Messer says his confidence and tenacity for shooting from deep comes from his long hours in the gym perfecting his stroke. He says his skill set has translated well to Truman, as the Bulldogs run a motion offense that involves setting up many screens and constant movement from all five guys on the floor.
“When you catch the ball in rhythm, the percentage of that shot going in goes up a lot more,” Messer says.
Head Coach Chris Foster has noticed Messer’s advanced professionalism and thinks the year he spent at the Navy Academy Preparatory School school also helped him mature as a person and player.
Foster says he has known about Messer since his days in traveling summer basketball which also helped establish a connection to him through Messer’s coach. After Messer decided to leave Navy, he reached out to Truman last summer to see whether Foster and his staff were interested. About a week later, Messer visited the Truman campus and knew right away it felt like home, committing himself to three seasons in purple and white.
“The sky’s the limit for the type of player that he can be,” Foster says.
Messer, a Chesterfield, Missouri, native says his family is able to see every one of his shots go in now that he is closer to home. Messer says his parents were able to make it to about two or three games when he was in Annapolis. He says that has made his Truman experience even more worthwhile because his family is incredibly important to him. Messer’s younger brother, Jake, recently signed on to be a part of the Bulldog basketball team next season.