Alabama guard Nimari Burnett won’t be taking to the court at all this season and will have to watch on from the sidelines as he recovers from knee surgery. The second-year player transferred from Texas Tech after playing for them in his first year.
Burnett, a five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American, averaged 5.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 12 games for the Red Raiders last year, before making an exit due to undisclosed personal reasons.
Photo via: Wikimedia Commons
Alabama head coach Nate Oats has announced the guard will miss the 2021/22 season in its entirety after suffering a knee injury and undergoing surgery to correct it.
“We are certainly disappointed for Nimari and his family,” the coach said in a statement. “Our program, his teammates and his family are going to support him throughout every step of the rehab process.
“Even though it’s a tough loss for us, I know Nimari’s work ethic combined with the fact he will be surrounded by the best of the best when it comes to our medical staff and team doctors gives me complete confidence that he will come back stronger and better than ever.”
This development comes as a huge disappointment for the player, his family and the program.
“College basketball hasn’t gone the way Burnett might have expected, and this definitely compounds the frustration. Fair or not, whether Burnett reaches his potential is an open question,” senior college basketball writer for The Athletic, Brian Hamilton, writes.
“Physically, we can assume he’ll be fine. The mental grind is more concerning. Two straight lost seasons would be difficult for anyone to process, and in Burnett’s case, he’ll be (presumably) returning to college hoops without ever really completing the transition to college hoops in the first place. He’s starting over, again, for the third time.
“One silver lining: Alabama plays so fast and Oats gives his team so much freedom that Burnett will have every opportunity to showcase his ability if and when he comes back.”
Hamilton doesn’t expect Nimari’s absence to affect Alabama that heavily.
“Negligible, unless backcourt depth is an issue that keeps you awake at night,” he writes on the potential impact of the college losing the player to injury. “The Crimson Tide are a little thin at guard now, but the guards they do have should be really good.
“If Jaden Shackelford ever fretted over how much he’d be featured this season, the All-SEC junior doesn’t have to worry anymore. Jahvon Quinerly is battle-tested and can handle 30-plus minutes a game if need be. Freshman JD Davison was merely the best point guard recruit in the country.
“It gets a little dicey after that yes, but as long as those three remain healthy and available, Alabama should be well-equipped.”
Photo via: Wikimedia Commons
Burnett was one of the most attractive players coming out of high school and was quite heavily recruited before choosing Texas Tech. His transfer came as a shock and it’s unknown as to why he wanted the move, although it’s easy to suspect he wasn’t happy coming off the bench.
The 6ft 4in, 190lb guard was the No.34 recruit in the country and the sixth-best combo guard in the 2020 class. He was considered to be the perfect replacement for Chris Duarte at Oregon as the two are almost identical in terms of height and size. Although he stands an inch shorter, the program had hopes of turning him into a proper star.
Of course, he didn’t end up there as the Crimson Tide won out and Oregon will feel like they dodged a bullet given what has happened since. The coming season will tell just how much of a loss he is for Alabama and fans who are keen on NCAAB odds will have to take that into consideration.
While Burnett scored just 28 percent from the field and a meager 17 percent from three, the Chicago native would be a great asset to any team. Alabama had to fight Oregon off, as well as the likes of USC, Vanderbilt, and the player’s native Illinois but will have to go without him in their lineup for an entire season.
While Oats will rue losing Burnett to injury, the coach has enough talent and depth at his disposal and should be able to navigate through the season without the All-American. Burnett would have gotten his minutes at the point but Jahvon Quinerly and JD Davison should be the ones who feature there.
The guards are also likely to be on the court together and, in such a case, Quinerly should be the one who plays at the one while Davison plays in the shooting guard position.
The two spot will be the most affected as Burnett would have probably spent more time playing there but it should mean that Jaden Shackelford will be playing as both a shooting guard and small forward over the course of the season. Keon Ellis will also be relied upon to provide the defense the team will miss through Nimari’s absence.