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Oregon Basketball Recruiting

5-Star Nimari Burnett on Oregon: "It was Just Crazy"

October 30, 2019

Special contribution from Aaron Torres

NAPA, Calif. -- Safe to say, it’s been a good few weeks to be an Oregon Ducks fan.  

On the football field, Oregon has quietly emerged as the talk of the Pac-12, a team that is on a seven-game win streak and very much alive in the College Football Playoff picture heading into this weekend’s game at USC. 

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Meanwhile, things are just as good on the hardwood, where the Ducks were picked to win the league in the preseason poll and opened the year ranked No. 15 in the AP voting.   

Still, as exciting as things are in the present for Oregon, they could be just as bright in the future. That’s because one of the top players in all of high school basketball visited campus over the weekend. 

Nimari Burnett is a five-star guard who is originally from Chicago, but currently playshis high school ball at Prolific Prep out in Napa (Calif.). Burnett is one of two Prolific Prep players the Oregon staff is actively recruiting; 6-6 wing Jalen Green is ranked in the Top 5 nationally by all the major recruiting services.  

Burnett was in Eugene until Sunday. Following his visit, ScoopDuck stopped by Prolific Prep to talk to both he and Green about Oregon and the possibility of playing in college together.  

Let’s start with Burnett. 

The 6-3 guard was fresh off his visit to Oregon when we spoke with him Monday afternoon. While so much of the focus of these visits is on a player’s relationship with the coaching staff or playing style, Burnett couldn’t help but mention that one thing that stood out above all else s about his trip to Eugene. 

The facilities.  

“It was high-tech, next level stuff,” Burnett said. “It was (things you’d see in the year) 2040, 2050. 

“(It was like) we weren’t even living in 2019. It was just crazy.”  

Burnett referenced a few of the futuristic things on Oregon’s campus, including a two-sided TV with a mirror in between (yeah, I’m just as confused by this futuristic contraption as you are) and recovery stations that “looked like spaceships” according to Burnett.    

Still, once Burnett got past the bells and whistles at Oregon, he discussed the importance of the things that truly matter -- mainly how he will fit in on the court when he arrives in Eugene. The Ducks’ coaching staff has told him that once Payton Pritchard graduates this spring, he would be the engine that makes Oregon’s offense go next fall.   

“They want me to take over that lead guard position,” Burnett said. “They want me to push the ball in transition, lead the team and help them continue their winning culture.”  

With the visit now behind him, Burnett’s focus is on the future -- and his looming college decision. This was Burnett’s final official visit; he will now choose from a group that includes Oregon, Alabama, Texas Tech and Michigan.   

While early prognostications have Alabama as the biggest threat to Oregon (he has just two Crystal Ball predictions on 247 Sports, both to the Crimson Tide), strong relationships could pull him in the direction of either the Red Raiders or Wolverines. Burnett has been recruited by Texas Tech assistant Ulric Maligi dating back to Maligi’s time at Texas A&M, and Burnett has known new Michigan coach Juwan Howard since he was 8 years old; both are from Chicago, and Burnett has played AAU ball with Howard’s son.   

Still, in the end it’s not about relationships as much as what was mentioned up top: Style of play and fit. And that’s a big part of why Burnett has waited so long to make a decision.  

Burnett says that he won’t make his choice until sometime in December, mainly so he can watch all four of his finalists play. Of his four schools, two have new head coach (Alabama’s Nate Oats plus Howard at Michigan), and he wants to make sure that the team actually plays the way style they’ve told Burnett they will.  

“I definitely want to watch some games to see if everything I’m told is real,” Burnett said. “It’s good to hear about it and talk about it, but I definitely want to see games and get a feel myself before I make a decision.” 

And once that decision gets made, the next big question will become this: Can Burnett convince his Prolific Prep teammate Jalen Green come with him to the same college.  

“I’m definitely going to try to get Jalen to commit,” Burnett said. “For sure, I’m going to recruit him.” 

That’s especially good news for Ducks fans. For one, the two players are especially tight; although they are just 17 years old, they have known each other for years. 

Burnett actually came out to California originally to team up with Green at a high school in Fresno before he eventually settled at Prolific. Green joined him in Napa a few years later.   

Second, Oregon is the only school that is actively recruiting both. Green is basically down to Oregon, Memphis and Auburn, with USC still trying to get into the picture late (there is the possibility that Green could pursue pro options as well). That means that if Green were to play with Burnett, Oregon would be the most likely spot. 

Green is following the same recruiting timeline as Burnet, as he is expected to commit on Christmas Day.  

In terms of the actual recruiting process, Green was hesitant to tip his hand when talking about his final few schools, making sure not to give any more credit to one school than another. When asked about Oregon specifically, he simply said, “It was good. The facilities are nice, and the coaches are cool.” 

Still, while Green was hesitant to say much about where he would go to college, the one thing that made him light up was talk of playing with Burnett at the next level.  

When he was asked about the proposition he stopped, smiled and said, “Yeah, that’s what they’re talking about.”  

Oregon fans can only hope that everyone is talking about Ducks’ basketball after these two make their college choices.

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