Five-star guard Nimari Burnett is coming off a strong performance at Peach Jam, resulting in his stock rising. According to ESPN, the prospect is the No. 21 overall talent in the entire 2020 recruiting class.
Burnett played a key role in Team WhyNot making their way to the championship game at Peach Jam, averaging 16.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. His performance in the championship was truly impressive, as he finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, all while shooting 9-of-11 (81.8%) from the field.
“It was surreal mostly because it was my second Peach Jam championship appearance in a row,” Burnett said when asked about his experience at Peach Jam. “Of course, I wanted to win the whole thing, but I put all my effort into it and so did my teammates. It was a great experience to even make it that far when people had us counted out. People didn’t even expect us to make it out of fourth place.”
What Burnett displayed at Peach Jam was a real ability to score from inside the arc when his three-point jumper isn’t falling. While he only shot 11-of-40 (27.5%) from deep, he hit 31-of-52 (59.6%) on two-point field goals primarily by finding ways to break down the defense off the dribble. His overall scoring efficiency translated to 42-of-92 (45.7%) shooting from the field.
The upcoming season Burnett has at Prolific Prep will feature a truly dynamic backcourt pairing with Jalen Green, the third overall ranked prospect in the 2020 class. When factoring in Coleman Hawkins in the frontcourt, they are set to have a team that has a real chance to be special.
“It’s going to be fun. Playing with other good players is always fun, especially when you can co-exist,” Nimari Burnett said when asked about what he’s looking forward to about playing with elite prospect Jalen Green at Prolific Prep. “Playing on Team WhyNot helped us have an early edge, so it should be a good one. We already have great chemistry so it’s going to be even better.”
It should be beneficial for Burnett to play alongside Green, in particular, considering how defenses will not be able to key in on just one guard by trapping without exploitation. There should be increased opportunity for Burnett to play off the ball as well, allowing him to display his versatility as a combo guard to college scouts.
There may be times when the opposing team is not using their top perimeter defender to guard Burnett because they are worried about slowing down Green. In theory, it could allow Burnett to capitalize on favorable matchups and make Prolific Prep a truly dangerous offense for opposing defenses to stop. It will also allow him to focus on improving particular aspects of his skill-set more easily.
Some of the benefits of being at Prolific Prep extends beyond playing alongside talented players during games. It will be mutually beneficial for Burnett and Green to be able to go up against each other in practices throughout the season. It only helps that the coaches help their players improve through working on the court and in the film room.
“It has definitely had a positive impact on me since day one,” Burnett said when asked about how Prolific Prep has helped him to improve as a player. “I’ve gotten better practice by practice, film by film. Just continue to expand my knowledge as a player and expand my skill-set because you know, there is never room for you to stop growing and getting better. I just keep my ears open to get more information so I can get better as a player.”
The focus Burnett has heading into the upcoming season is to go from being good in many areas of his game to become great. He particularly highlighted pick-and-roll ball handling as a specific area that will be a focus for him, as well as his shooting, passing, and advancing his understanding of the game.
“Definitely improve on everything,” Nimari Burnett said. “I feel like I am good at everything, but I want to be great at everything. I think my shooting is good, got to make that great. As well as my IQ and my passing ability. Different moves in pick-and-roll situations. Focusing on everything, basically.”
Burnett took the next step in his recruitment earlier this week. He has cut his list of colleges that he is considering signing with down to 12 teams. Those programs are; Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Auburn, Illinois, Louisville, Marquette, Michigan, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Wake Forest.
Given he has time to make a decision, he still has to do his due diligence and weigh the factors that will help him arrive at a decision. However, there’s a fundamental understanding that Burnett has regarding what he will be looking for in a school before making his decision.
“I definitely want to come in and play right away,” Burnett said. “I definitely want to play point guard because I have good size as a point guard as opposed to a shooting guard. I definitely want to play both as well, but primarily point guard. Play for a school whose coaches believe in me and who are also good coaches. Just a school with a good history, so that’s the plan.”
While there may still be 12 teams left on Burnett’s list, the pursuit some schools have made is more focused than others. He mentioned Oregon, Marquette, Alabama, Illinois, USC, UCLA and Arizona as schools that have been prioritizing him in their recruiting efforts.
Among the 2020 recruiting class, Nimari Burnett is certainly one of the players to watch. We may have to wait to see where he will be playing his collegiate basketball at, but in the meantime, you can watch him play with Team WhyNot and at Prolific Prep.
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