Of the ten most highly-ranked high school players to ever sign with the Texas Tech basketball program, three of them are members of the class of 2020. Leading that group is the No. 1 all-time Red Raider signee, Nimari Burnett, who along with Micah Peavy (No. 3 all-time for Tech) and Chibuzo Agbo Jr. (No. 10) will bring a wave of talent into the program next season the likes of which we have never seen in one year.
According to 247Sports.com, Tech has the top 2020 class in the Big 12 and the No. 9 class in America. And without question, Burnett is the bell cow.
Rated as the No. 26 player in the country and the No. 6 combo guard in America, he was selected for the McDonald’s All-American Game making him the first Texas Tech signee to earn that honor. Of course, he will not get to participate in the event after its cancellation due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Interestingly, Tech was late to get into the frenzy for Burnett. The program didn’t offer him a scholarship until August of 2019 after hiring Ulric Maligi to be an assistant coach on Chris Beard’s staff.
Maligi had been cultivating a relationship with Burnett while coaching at Texas A&M so when he came to Lubbock after the Aggies fired Billy Kennedy, Tech had a connection to one of the top players in the nation.
Given that Beard took a team of 3-star recruits and transfers to the 2019 National Title Game, we all began to wonder just what he might be able to accomplish were he able to start signing blue-chip prospects. We didn’t have an opportunity to find out in 2020 despite the fact that Beard had Jahmi’us Ramsey (who was the program’s highest-rated signee prior to Burnett) on the team.
Therefore, the excitement over Burnett’s arrival is off the charts in Lubbock and throughout the Red Raider fan base. But unless one is a high school basketball aficionado, it’s likely that few of us have ever seen him play with the exception of some highlight videos
So to get an idea of what he is as a player, I watched two of his games from start to finish. I didn’t know the score of either nor did I know how he performed in them prior to clicking on them at random.
The first was a game against Huntington Prep from back in January. That opponent featured 6-foot-9 forward Isaiah Cotrell, the No. 72 player in the nation who is headed to West Virginia.
In that contest, Burnett had 15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and four steals. But he was just 5-13 from the field.
The second game saw Burnett and his Prolific Prep team take on Word of God Academy, which featured Isaiah Todd. You may have heard his name recently after he backed out of a commitment to Michigan to head to the NBA G-League development program. That night, Burnett had a team-high 28 points, 8 rebounds, six assists, and three steals.
For what it’s worth, Burnett and Prolific Prep won both games. But that’s not what any of us care about.
Let’s go inside what I saw in both games and look at what we might expect from Burnett. As we do, it will become apparent why Beard and the Red Raiders are so fortunate to have landed this talented guard.